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My first elephant


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I wanted one with an animal for my ever growing Antoninvs Pivs collection. When I saw this one I just had to have it, Arrived this morning. Please feel free to post your elephants, partial or whole, to keep this one company.

Antoninus Pius, Rome 148-149 CE
Obverse, Head of Antoninus Pius, laureate, right.
ANTONINVS AVG PIVS P P TR P XII  Translation: Antoninus Augustus Pius, Pater Patriae, Tribunicia Potestate Duoecima.
Antoninus Pius, emperor (Augustus) father of the nation, holder of tribunician power for the twelfth time.
Reverse, Elephant, sometimes cuirassed, walking right.
MVNIFICENTIA AVG COS IIII S C  Translation: Munificentia Augusti. Consul Quartum. Senatus Consultum.
Munificence (generosity) of the emperor. Consul for the fourth time. Decree of the senate.
9.41g, 26/29 mm. RIC III. 862a


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Nice elephant. They don't seem to be too common on ancient coins.

Phraates II Chalkous, 132-127BC
Ekbatana, Parthian Kingdom. Bronze, 15mm, 1.68g. Diademed, short-bearded bust left, no symbols, circular border of pellets. Elephant advancing right on exergual line; no border; legends to left and right, four-line Greek inscription ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΜΕΓΑΛΟΥ ΑΡΣΑΚΟΥ ΘΕΟΠΑΤΟΡΟΣ (Of Great King Arsaces, of Divine Descent) (Sellwood 16.29).

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Everyone’s favorite elephant - Julius Caesar, denarius, 49 BC 


Caecilius Metellus Pius Scipio, denarius, 47-46 BC


Elephant headdress, Quintus Caecilius Metellus Pius Scipio, denarius, 47-46 BC


Another headdress, L Cestius and C Norbanus, aureus, 43 BC

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Elephants like to travel in herds. 🙂


Titus. 79-81 CE
AR Denarius 17.5mm, 3.29 g, 6h
Rome mint. Struck 1 January-30 June AD 80
Laureate head right
Elephant, with skin texture, walking left on exergual line
RIC II.1 115; RSC 303



Seleukos I Nikator
Tetradrachm (Silver, 26 mm, 17.08 g, 8 h)
Susa, circa 296/5-281.
Laureate head of Zeus to right. Rev. BAΣIΛEΩΣ / ΣEΛEΥKOΥ Athena, brandishing spear overhead in her right hand and holding shield in her left, standing right in quadriga of elephants moving to right; above to right, spearhead; before elephants, monogram of MΩ. SC 177.2. 



Indo-Skythian Kings. Maues.
Circa 125-85 BCE
AE 29.31mm 10.13g
Obverse: Head of elephant right, with bell around neck
Reverse: BAΣIΛEΩΣ / MAVOY, caduceus, monogram in left field
Senior 5.1


Some actual elephants I photographed in Tanzania...


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This was my first 


Seleukid Kingdom. Sardeis. Antiochos III Megas 223-187 BC.  Bronze Æ 12 mm, 1,96 g.

Obv - Laureate head of Apollo right, with spiral curls

Rev - Elephant standing left. BAΣΙΛΕΩΣ ANTIOXOY (vertical left and right), monogram  above elephant

SC 981

My second (and last)


Septimius Severus, AD 193-211. Silver Denarius, Rome mint, 197.

Obv.: L SEPT SEV PERT AVG IMP VIIII, laureate head right / Rev.: MVNIFICENTIA AVG, elephant, cuirassed, advancing right.

RIC 100; BMCRE 168; RSC 349

After Septimius defeated Clodius Albinus in the battle of Lugdunum (AD 197) he organized public games in Rome. The reverse of this coin commemorates this event.

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I love elephants! Which is why I have elephants galore, including an example of your Antoninus Pius. (I believe the ones interpreted as wearing a cuirass are now generally believed to reflect an attempt to represent elephants' wrinkled skin.)

Roman Republic, Anonymous [probably Caecilius Metellus Diadematus or Caecilius Metellus Delmaticus], AR Denarius 128 BCE. Obv. Head of Roma right, wearing winged helmet, * [monogram for value: XVI asses] behind; otherwise anepigraphic  / Rev. Pax or Juno driving biga galloping right, holding reins and long scepter in left hand and branch (olive or laurel) in right hand; elephant head under horses, facing right with trunk curving down, wearing bell dangling from neck; ROMA in exergue. Crawford 262/1, RSC I Caecilia 38 (ill.), BMCRR 1044, Sear RCV I 138, Sydenham 496. 18.5 mm., 3.89 g., 11 h.* image.jpeg.dfab21276226099ed742627ce4a767c0.jpeg

*One of only four anonymous Roman Republican denarii after ca. 154 BCE (see also Crawford 222/1, 287/1, & 350A/2), and the only one of the four that can be identified with near-certainty. See Crawford Vol. I at p. 287, explaining that the elephant head with dangling bell depicted on the reverse signals that the moneyer belonged to the Caecilii Metelli family, and recalls the victory of L. Caecilius Metellus, Cos. 251, over Hasdrubal at Panormus in 250 BCE, and the capture of Hasdrubal’s elephants. (See also the denarii depicting elephants or elephant heads issued by, e.g., M. Metellus Q.f. [127 BCE, Crawford 263/1a-1b], C. Caecilius Metullus Caprarius [125 BCE, Crawford 269/1]; Q. Caecilius Metellus Pius [81 BCE, Crawford 374/1]; and Q. Caecilius Metullus Pius Scipio [47-46 BCE, Crawford 459/1]. Therefore, it is generally accepted that this denarius was issued by either L. Caecilius Metellus Diadematus (Cos. 117), or L. Caecilius Metellus Delmaticus (Cos. 119), with the authorities seemingly preferring the former, given that his three brothers all held the moneyership. (Id.; see also Sear RCV I at p. 99; Harold B. Mattingly, “Roman Republican Coinage ca. 150-90 B.C.,” in From Coins to History (2004), pp. 199-226 at p. 219 n. 75.) 

The uncertainty in identifying the goddess in the biga arises from the inability to identify definitively the branch she holds: an olive branch would mean that the goddess is Pax, and a laurel branch would mean that she is Juno Regina. (See Crawford at p. 287.)  Grueber (in BMCRR) and Seaby (in RSC) identify the goddess as Pax; Crawford and Sear note both possible identifications.

Roman Republic, M. Caecilius Q.f. Metelllus, AR Denarius, 127 BC (Crawford, RSC, Sear), ca. 126 BCE (Mattingly, op. cit. at p. 258, Table 3), Rome Mint. Obv. Head of Roma right in winged helmet, star on helmet flap, ROMA upwards behind, * (XVI ligature, mark of value = 16 asses) below chin / Rev. Macedonian shield, decorated with elephant head in center wearing bell, M METELLVS Q F around beginning at 6:00, all within laurel wreath. Crawford 263/1(a), Sydenham 480, RSC I Caecilia 29, Russo RBW 1064, Sear RCV I 139 (ill.). 19.5 mm., 3.80 g., 9 hr. [Footnote omitted.]


Roman Republic, C. Caecilius Metellus Caprarius, AR Denarius 125 BCE. Obv. Head of Roma right wearing winged Phrygian helmet with crest in form of head and beak of eagle (i.e, griffin); behind, ROMA downwards; before, mark of value * (= XVI) [off flan] / Rev. Jupiter, crowned with wreath by flying Victory above, in biga of elephants left, holding thunderbolt in left hand and reins in right hand; in exergue, C•METELLVS (ME ligate). 17 mm., 3.90 g. Crawford 269/1, BMCRR I 1180-1182 (& Vol. III Pl. xxx 8), RSC I Caecilia 14, Sear RCV I 145. Purchased from Dix Noonan Webb Auction 253, 13 April 2022, Lot 1247; ex. Spink Numismatic Circular Dec. 1985, No. 8404 at p. 334.*


*The moneyer “is presumably C. Caecilius Metellus Caprarius, Cos. 113” (Crawford Vol. I p. 293), who was born ca. 160 BCE, and served under Scipio Aemilianus at the siege of Numantia in 133 BCE in the Third Punic War; he died sometime after 102 BCE. BMCRR I p. 182 n. 1;  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaius_Caecilius_Metellus_Caprarius.

Roman Republic, Q. Caecilius Metellus Pius, AR Denarius, 81 BCE. Obv. Head of Pietas right, wearing diadem; below chin, stork standing right / Rev. Elephant standing left, wearing bell around neck; in exergue, Q•C•M•P•I [Q. Caecilius Metellus Imperator]. Crawford 374/1, RSC I Caecilia 43, Sear RCV I 301 (ill.), Sydenham 750, BMCRR Spain 43. 18 mm., 3.9 g.*


*See Sear RCV I at p. 128: “The issuer strikes as imperator in Northern Italy where he was campaigning on behalf of Sulla. The following year he was to be the dictator’s colleague in the consulship.” See also Crawford Vol. I p. 390: “This issue was produced by Q. Caecilius Metellus Pius, serving as a Sullan commander in the fight against Carrinas, Norbanus and Carbo. The obverse type [of Pietas] . . . alludes to his cognomen, acquired for his part in securing the restoration from exile of his father Q. Caecilius Metullus Numidicus.” The stork depicted in front of Pietas “is an emblem of family piety and an occasional adjunct of the goddess.” Jones, John Melville, A Dictionary of Ancient Roman Coins (London, Seaby, 1990) p. 243, under entry for Pietas.  (Apparently, the Romans believed that the stork demonstrated family loyalty by returning to the same nest every year, and that it took care of its parents in old age.) [Remainder of fn., re elephants, omitted.] 

Roman Republic, Q. Caecilius Metellus Pius Scipio, 47/46 BCE, N. Africa, Utica (provincial capital 30 mi. NW of site of Carthage) or mobile military mint traveling with Scipio’s camp [see Sear Imperatorial (CRI), infra at p. 34]. Obv. Laureate head of Jupiter right, Q. METEL around to right, PIVS in exergue (PI ligate)/ Rev. African elephant walking right, SCIPIO above, IMP in exergue. Crawford 459/1, Sear Imperatorial (CRI) 45 (pp. 33-34) [David Sear, The History and Coinage of the Roman Imperators 49-27 BC (1998)], RSC I Caecilia [Babelon] 47 (ill. p. 21), Sear RCV I 1379 (ill. p. 262), RBW Collection 1601 (ill. p. 337), BMCRR Africa 1, Claire Rowan, From Caesar to Augustus (c. 49 BC - AD 14), Using Coins as Sources (Cambridge 2019) at pp. 44-45 & Fig. 2.22. 19.5 mm., 3.78 g. Purchased from Germania Inferior Numismatics, Netherlands, Dec. 2021.*


*Issued by Q. Caecilius Metellus Pius Scipio (ca. 95-46 BCE), a great-great-great-grandson of Scipio Africanus [see Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quintus_Caecilius_Metellus_Pius_Scipio], and also a member of the Caecilii Metelli family by testamentary adoption [id.]. He issued this coin as the commander-in-chief of the remaining Pompeian forces in North Africa after Pompey’s defeat at Pharsalus and subsequent assassination, leading up to their defeat by Caesar at the Battle of Thapsus (in present-day Tunisia) on 6 Feb. 46 BCE. In CRI at p. 34, Sear states as follows about this coin: “Both stylistically and in volume this coinage stands apart from the rather limited issues in Scipio’s name which can safely be attributed to the provincial capital of Utica (nos. 40-43)/ The inescapable conclusion is that this type, which is in the sole name of the commander-in-chief, is a product of the military mint operating within the security of Scipio’s camp. It would appear to belong to the latter stages of the campaign as the Pompeian army was moving around the province prior to being enticed into the fatal engagement at Thapsus.” 

See Metellus Scipio’s biography in Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th edition, Vol. XVIII, pp. 258-259 (1911):

 “QUINTUS CAECILIUS METELLUS PIUS SCIPIO, son of P. Scipio Nasia, was adopted by [Q. Caecilius Metellus Pius (d. ca. 64 BCE), issuer of Crawford 374/1 in 81 BCE, through the latter's will.]. He was accused of bribery in 60 B.C., and defended by Cicero, to whom he had rendered valuable assistance during the Catilinarian conspiracy. In August 52, he became consul through the influence of [his son-in-law] Pompey, who had married his daughter Cornelia [as his fifth wife. Pompey was Cornelia's second husband; her first, the son of Crassus, died at Carrhae.].  In 49 [Metellus Scipio] proposed that Caesar should disband his army within a definite time, under pain of being declared an enemy of the state. Afte the outbreak of the civil war, the province of Syria was assigned to him, and he was about to plunder the temple of Artemis at Ephesus when he was recalled by Pompey. He commanded the centre at Pharsalus, and afterwards went to Africa, where by Cato's influence he received the command. In 46 he was defeated at Thapsus; while endeavoring to escape to Spain he fell into the hands of P. Sittius, and put himself to death. His connexion with two great families gave him importance, but he was selfish and licentious, wanting in personal courage, and his violence drove many from his party.” 

Clare Rowan discusses Metellus Scipio and his coinage, including this type, at length at pp. 42-46 of her book (see citation above): 

“After the defeat at Pharsalus and Pompey's death in Egypt in 48 BC, opposition to Caesar continued in Africa under the command of Metellus Scipio, who had previously commanded forces in Syria. Along with other Pompeian commanders, Scipio was subjected to criticism by the Caesarian side -- in The Civil War Caesar attacked their legitimacy, noting that Scipio (and others) did not wait for the ratification of the appointments by the assembly and left Rome without taking the appropriate auspices, amongst other irregularities (Caes. BCiv. 1.6.6-7). Caesar wrote ‘all rights, divine and human, were thrown into confusion.’ Whether Caesar's accusations are true or not, we find a clear response to them on Scipio's coinage, which display an inordinate emphasis on Scipio's offices, and their legitimacy. . .  [Citing, among other things, obverse references to Jupiter as "underlining Scipio's divine support."]. . . .[Discussion of Scipio's other coins omitted.] Th[e] combination of familial history and contemporary politics can also be seen on Fig. 2.22 [illustration of Crawford 459/1, this type], which has a reverse decorated with an elephant accompanied by the legend SCIPIO IMP. Although one might be tempted to see this as a 'reply' to Caesar's elephant (Fig. 2.1, Crawford 443/1), there is little to support this hypothesis. The elephant had been a symbol of the Metelli since the victory of L. Caecilius Metellus over Hasdrubal at Panormus during the First Punic War in 250 BC, and elephants had previously appeared on the coinage of several moneyers from the family. [See Crawford 262/1, Crawford 263/1a-1b, Crawford 269/1, and Crawford 374/1] . . . . Indeed, Q. Caecilius Metellus Pius [Scipio's father by testamentary adoption] . . . released an issue displaying an elephant with the initials of his name in the exergue: Q.C.M.P.I. (the ‘I’ referring to his title as imperator).” [See Crawford 374/1]. [Portion of fn. re familial elephant connection omitted.] . . . . 

Rowan continues at pp. 45-46: 

“Scipio may have been using an ancestral type in keeping with Republican tradition. Nonetheless, the elephant was a topical motif, particularly since Casear's own elephant issue [Crawford 443/1] was very large, and so others may have interpreted the image within the competing claims of the civil war (particularly if they didn't have an intimate knowledge of Roman elite family symbols). Since the issue was struck in Africa, the image might also have been interpreted as a reference to the elephants of King Juba I, who supported Scipio against Caesar (Dio 43.3.5-4.1). Juba himself released coins with an elephant on the reverse (Fig. 2.24), and so any users of Scipio's currency in Africa may have seen the elephant as a local symbol rather than (or in addition to) a reference to the Roman general."

Titus (son of Vespasian) AR Denarius 80 AD, Rome Mint. Obv. Laureate head right, IMP TITVS CAES VESPASIAN AVG P M / Rev. Elephant walking left, TR P IX IMP XV COS VIII P P.  RIC II-1 Titus 115 (2007 ed.); RIC II 22a (1926 ed.); RSC II Titus 303; BMCRE 43; Sear RCV I 2512. 18 mm., 3.12 g. [This type is believed to have been issued in celebration of the opening of the Colosseum.]


Trajan, AE Drachm, Year 15 (111/112 AD), Alexandria, Egypt Mint. Obv. Laureate bust right, nude and with aegis on left shoulder, ΑΥΤ ΤΡΑΙΑΝ ϹЄΒ ΓЄΡΜ ΔΑΚΙΚ / Rev. Emperor (Trajan), laureate and togate, standing in elephant quadriga, right. holding eagle-tipped sceptre and branch; first three elephants with trunks turned down at end and fourth elephant with trunk turned up; in exergue, L IƐ (Year 15).  RPC [Roman Provincial Coinage] Vol. III 4605.4 (2015); RPC Online at https://rpc.ashmus.ox.ac.uk/coins/3/4605.4 ; Emmett 462.15 [Emmett, Keith, Alexandrian Coins (Lodi, WI, 2001)]; Dattari (Savio) 769 [Savio, A. ed., Catalogo completo della collezione Dattari Numi Augg. Alexandrini (Trieste, 2007)]; BMC 16 Alexandria 512 [Poole, Reginald Stuart, A Catalog of the Greek Coins in the British Museum, Vol. 16, Alexandria (London, 1892)]; Milne 669 at p. 19 [Milne, J.G., Catalogue of Alexandrian Coins (Oxford 1933, reprint with supplement by Colin M. Kraay, 1971)]. 33.5 mm., 21.26 g. Purchased from Odysseus- Numismatique, Montpellier, France, June 2021.


Antoninus Pius AE As, 148 AD, Rome Mint. Obv. Laureate head right, ANTONINVS AVG PIVS P P TR P XII / Rev. Elephant walking left, MV-NIFICENTIA AVG; in exergue COS IIII/S C in two lines. RIC III 863, Sear RCV II 4308 (var.), BMCRE 1840. 29 mm., 10.4 g. (Issued to commemorate games and spectacles held to celebrate 900th anniversary of Rome.)


Septimius Severus, AR Denarius 197 AD, Rome Mint. Obv. Laureate head right, L SEPT SEV PERT AVG IMP VIII / Rev. Elephant advancing right, MVNIFICENTIA AVG. RIC IV-1 82, RSC III 348, Sear RCV II 6317. 18 mm., 3.32 g.


Philip I AR Antoninianus, ca. 247/48 AD, Rome Mint. Obv. Radiate, draped, & cuirassed bust right, IMP PHILIPPVS AVG/ Rev. Elephant walking left, bearing driver holding goad, AETERNITAS AVGG. RIC IV-3 58, RSC IV 17, Sear RCV III 8921. 23 mm., 4.2 g.  (Issued in connection with 1,000th anniversary of founding of Rome.)


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A nice Antoninus Pius elephant @expat.  Here's an unusual elephant from 8th century Syria


Islamic, Umayyad Caliphate, temp. Hisham ibn 'Abd al-Malik, AH 105-125 / CE 724-743. Æ Fals (16.8mm, 2.29g). Elephant type, Hims (Emesa) mint. Struck circa AH 125 (CE  742/3) kalima on obverse continuing on reverse. 

Ref: Bone 8.1b; Album 178.1; zeno 225418, Walker #799

Note: from the final phase of post-reform coinage of Umayyad Syria, beginning c.120/737 and continuing into the ‘Abbasid period


Greek, Seleukid Kings of Syria. Antiochos III 'the Great' Æ, 12mm 2.55g, Sardes 222-187 BC

Obv: Laureate head of Apollo right in circle of dots

Rev: lephant standing left; anchor to left

Ref: SC 979

Edited by Sulla80
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I've already posted my Caesar elephant earlier tody, so here's something different :


Ptolemy II Philadelphos : Obol (Bronze), Alexandria, circa 260-246 BC.
Diademed head of the deified Alexander III to right, wearing elephant skin headdress and aegis around his neck, and with horn of Ammon on his forehead.
ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΠΤΟΛΕΜΑΙΟΥ Eagle with open wings standing left on thunderbolt ; between the eagle's legs, Λ.
24 mm, 10.43 g, 1 h
Ref : Lorber # B250, Sear # 7780v.


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