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Pharoah, oah, oahhhh: a rare case of a Pharoah's portrait on a provincial Roman coin and other Egyptian iconography on ancient coinage


Ryro

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When I first came across this coin in the last Nomos Obols I had questions. Serious questions! Fortunately, they were all answered by our own @DonnaML in her write up on the type 

(maybe we'll be lucky enough to have her share her AMAZING example).

Here's my latest Greco Roman coin paying homage to the Egyptians:

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EGYPT, Arsinoite Nome. Alexandria. Hadrian, 117-138. Obol (Bronze, 19 mm, 5.21 g, 12 h), year ΙΑ = 11 = 126/7. ΑΥΤ ΚΑΙ - ΤΡΑΙ ΑΔΡΙΑ CЄΒ Laureate head of Hadrian to right, slight drapery on his far shoulder. Rev. ΑΡCI - L ΙΑ Head of the Pharaoh Premarres (= Amenemhet III of the 12th Dynasty, 1831-1786 BCE) to right, wearing the nemes head cloth and the uraeus serpent. BMC N73. RPC III 6296. Attractive and clear with a brown patina. Minor deposits. Good very fine.

Amenemhet III was a very big deal during the middle kingdom. Sadly, much of his contributions are lost. 

Amenemhat-III-e1657968418549.jpg.f8a21f24847e8edf75920cf9862acddd.jpgScreenshot_20230720_193407_Google.jpg.d95e62e5eee7619683498a1bed850c68.jpg

 

Other coins with Egyptian iconography:

Melitas was a long shot for where to expect such wonderful coins dedicated to ancient Egypt, but boy did they make some cool coins. 

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Melita - Mummy of Osiris Bronze 218-175 BC Obv: veiled and diademed female head right, wearing earring. Rev: Mummy of Osiris standing facing, head left, holding flail and sceptre, between winged figures of Isis and Nephtys, each with sun disk on their heads and one wing angled inwards; Punic ‘NN above. 12.78 grams. Fair. Provenance Property of a Hertfordshire, UK gentleman; with old envelope. Literature CNS 2; SG Cop (Vol. 😎 458-459; Mayr 2; Sear 6584. 

Outer-coffin-of-Taywheryt-depicting-Osiris.jpg.40263d095acd1f83b564fff7eaa28a5f.jpg220px-thumbnail.jpg.7988d6701d9f4f2fb97170344859f0b0.jpg

Isis was a wonderful addition to anyone's coinage:

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Julia Domna (AD 193-217). AR denarius (20mm, 3.30 gm, 1h). VF, flan crack. Rome, AD 200-207. IVLIA-AVGVSTA, draped bust of Julia Domna right, seen from front, hair braided in waves and tucked in large chignon at back of head / SAECVLI F-ELICITAS, Isis, wearing peaked headdress, standing right, left foot on prow, holding the infant horus at her breast; to left, altar, against which rests a rudder. RIC IV.I (Septimius Severus) 577. Ex: Dr Elkowicz Jan 2021 "An issue of aurei, denarii and sesterces in the name of the Empress Julia Domna appears on the reverse Isis. The legend SAECVLI FELICITAS invites to consider this strike as the indication of a new era of prosperity thanks to the Severan family back from Egypt. Already attached to the Antonine dynasty by the will of Septimius Severus, Divi Marci filius since 194, it promises stability and order to the Empire."

And her headdress:

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Ptolemy Apion. King of Kyrenaika, c. 104/1–96 BC. Æ Chalkous (13mm, 2.1 g, 12h). Kyrene mint. Diademed head of Zeus-Ammon right / Headdress of Isis. Svoronos 1845 (Ptolemy XIII–Alexandreia); Weiser –; SNG Copenhagen 685-90 (Uncertain mint in Cyprus); Noeske 392-4 (Indeterminate mint in Cyprus or Alexandria); Asolati 113. VF, dark brown patina with earthen highlights/deposits. Rare. Purchased from Heritage Auction June 2021

Speaking of hats, the Hemhem crown was very popular in ancient Egypt to celebrate the power of Pharaoh and for sacrifices:

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Trajan, Bronze dichalkon, Emmett 707, F, a bit rough, ragged flan, 1.660g, 14.3mm, 0o, Alexandria mint, 25 Jan 98 - 8/9 Aug 117 A.D.; obverse no legend, laureate head right; reverse no legend, Hemhem crown, date in lower field divided by ram horns; from the Ray Nouri Collection

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Of course places had their personifications in the ancient world:

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HADRIAN 117-138 AD. AR Denarius (19mm, 2.77gm). Struck 134-138 AD. Head right / Egypt reclining against basket left, holding sistrum, ibis at feet. RIC II 297; RSC 99. Ex-Savoca This coin commemorates Hadrian's visit to Egypt in 130-131 AD. It was while Hadrian was on tour in Egypt that his favorite, Antinoüs, "mysteriously" drowned in the Nile. So great was the emperor's grief that he commanded a series of religious rituals to be performed in the young man's honor, and, on the site where the body was recovered, Hadrian ordered the construction of a city called Antinöopolis in honor of the young man. 

 

Please share any thoughts, coins etc that have to do with ancient Egypt!

 

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Hey nice score. I had that very coin on my watch list and came very close to bidding on it! Ended up going for another coin instead. 

That is a fascinating type, though, and your example is in very nice shape. Congrats!

I guess the only thing I've got that has to do with ancient (Pharaonic) Egypt is this scarab:

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Brilliant example,  @Ryro.  You and @DonnaML are far better informed about this than I am, but here's one visual in a different medium, demonstrating not only the survival, but the diffusion of the Pharaonic ethos into Roman times.  Talk about cultural longevity!  Kind of amazing.

File:Isiac water ceremony.jpg

Fresco of a ritual of the cult of Isis, from a fresco in Herculaneum.  (From Wikimedia Commons; https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Isiac_water_ceremony.jpg)

 

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Nice pickup! I wasn't even aware the Romans minted coins with pharaohs.

I've posted this coin several times before, but it's the best match for this topic. It may have the best mint mark of the "names and types of Alexander."

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Egypt, Ptolemy I as satrap
with name and types of Alexander III
Memphis, c. 323/2 BCE
AR Tetradrachm, 16.09g
bv: Head of young Herakles r. wearing lionskin headdress.
Rx: AΛEΞANΔPoY Zeus seated l. holding eagle and scepter, in l. field, head of Amun-Ra (as ram) r., wearing double-plume crown, monogram under throne
CPE-4, Price-3964
Ex NFA

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Here are a couple of ancient coins with Egyptian themes.

Phoenicia, Byblos, Shekel, 435-425 BC.

This is one of my favorite Greek ancient coins, quite rare.  It is a wonderful mix of Greek and Egyptian mythology.  On the obverse is a hippocamp, the Greek half winged horse, half fish.  On the reverse is a vulture, the goddess Nekhbet, the protector of Upper Egypt.  Below in a incuse design, symbolizing the god Khnum, who is associated with fertility, water and procreation.

D-CameraPhoeniciaBybosShekel435-425BCCNG5-14-20.jpg.630b5da287bd2b012a0e2395bf561221.jpg

EGYPT, Alexandria, Hadrian, BI tetradrachm, AD 117-138.  Canopic jar reverse.

26mm, 12.66 grams

RomanEmpireEGYPTAlexandria.Hadrian.AD117-138.Canopicjarreverse26mm12.66g12h.jpg.cfc1657186996f77eed52d0940ec2f16.jpg

Edited by robinjojo
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Great nome, with a lovely reverse. Recent Leu auction had quite a few for sale, and some fetched high prices! 

I'll add this one to this thread. I really like this coin! 

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Edited by Limes
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20 hours ago, robinjojo said:

Here are a couple of ancient coins with Egyptian themes.

Phoenicia, Bybos, Shekel, 435-425 BC.

This is one of my favorite Greek ancient coins, quite rare.  It is a wonderful mix of Greek and Egyptian mythology.  On the obverse is a hippocamp, the Greek half winged horse, half fish.  On the reverse is a vulture, the goddess Nekhbet, the protector of Upper Egypt.  Below in a incuse design, symbolizing the god Khnum, who is associated with fertility, water and procreation.

D-CameraPhoeniciaBybosShekel435-425BCCNG5-14-20.jpg.630b5da287bd2b012a0e2395bf561221.jpg

EGYPT, Alexandria, Hadrian, BI tetradrachm, AD 117-138.  Canopic jar reverse.

26mm, 12.66 grams

RomanEmpireEGYPTAlexandria.Hadrian.AD117-138.Canopicjarreverse26mm12.66g12h.jpg.cfc1657186996f77eed52d0940ec2f16.jpg

@robinjojo, I need to give @DonnaML Major props for having first turned me on to these Roman provincials with the amazingly faithful renditions of these Pharaonic motifs.  I think she's done a thread on them, or at least posted a Bunch of them in a related one.  But everyone's are just really compelling.  ...Another kind of ancient that I'd Really like to find a representative example of, even as a one-off.

...But your Phoenician shekel is in a different league.  The proximity to the end of the Pharaonic period age eon, both chronologically and geographically, from a polity with a lengthy history of contact with it, is ...well, time to access Gestalt mode: WOW.  That's looking like the closest you'll ever get to an actual late Pharaonic coin.

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Awesome coin @Ryro! What would you take in trade?

 

 

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Aeolis, Cyme. AE18. Amazon Kyme/Isis
Obv: K VMH Amazon Kyme bust r., turreted.
Rev: KVM AIWN Isis standing l., sistrum in r., situla in l.
Time of Valerian to Gallienus.
BMC 120

 

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Phrygia, Colossae. Pseudo-autonomous issue AD 117-138. Bronze Æ20

Obv: Bust of Serapis right, modius on head.
Rev: KOΛOC CH-NΩN, Isis standing, holding situla and sistrum.
RPC IV.2, 1903 (temporary)

 

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Phrygia, Laodicea ad Lycum. AE15. Time of Tiberius.

Obv: ΛAOΔIKEΩN, laureate head of Apollo to right, lyre to right.
Rev: ΠYΘHΣ ΠYΘOY, altar surmounted by headdress of Isis.
Ref: RPC 2903, SNG Copenhagen 510.
Magistrate Pythes, son of Pythes.

 

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Thrace, Serdica. Marcus Aurelius AE20. Bust of Isis


Obv: AY KAI M AYPH ANTΩNINOC Head facing r.
Rev: CEPΔWN Bust of Isis decorated with lotus r.

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That's a spectacular example of the Nomes obol with the pharaonic portrait, @Ryro! I'm so glad you bought it.  I think I've mentioned that the pharaoh depicted on the coin, Amenemhat III, happens to be the earliest historical figure known to be portrayed on any ancient coin.

Here are some of my more "Egyptian" coins from Roman Alexandria. So as not to clutter up this thread, if anyone also wants to see some of my Egyptian antiquities, they can look in the antiquities forum at the thread about my collection that I started last year.  See https://www.numisforums.com/topic/199-a-thread-for-my-antiquities/ .

First, my example of your coin:

Hadrian, AE Nome Obol, Year 11 (126/127 AD), Alexandria, Egypt Mint (for Arsinoite Nome). Obv. Laureate bust right, slight drapery on left shoulder, AΥΤ ΚΑΙ - ΤΡΑΙ ΑΔΡΙΑ ϹΕΒ / Rev. Head of Egyptian Pharaoh right, no beard [identified with Amenemhat III, under Greco-Roman name of Pramarres], wearing nemes [royal striped headdress] with uraeus [sacred cobra, worn by deities and pharaohs] at forehead; APCI (= Arsi[noites]) to left, date L IA (Year 11) to right. RPC [Roman Provincial Coinage] Vol. III 6296 (2015); RPC III Online at https://rpc.ashmus.ox.ac.uk/coins/3/6296 ; Emmett 1211.11 [Emmett, Keith, Alexandrian Coins (Lodi, WI, 2001)]; BMC 16 Alexandria, Nomes 72-73 at p. 357 [Poole, Reginald Stuart, A Catalog of the Greek Coins in the British Museum, Vol. 16, Alexandria (London, 1892)]; Sear RCV II 3831 (ill.); Köln 3381/82 [Geissen, A., Katalog alexandrinischer KaisermünzenKöln, Band II (Hadrian-Antoninus Pius) (Cologne, 1978, corrected reprint 1987)]; K&G N6.6; Milne 1229 at p. 30 (var. with beard; see p. 139 col. 2 bottom) [Milne, J.G., Catalogue of Alexandrian Coins (Oxford 1933, reprint with supplement by Colin M. Kraay, 1971)]. 19.4 mm., 5.32 g. (Purchased from Zuzim Inc., Brooklyn, NY Jan 2021; ex. Fontanille Coins, Auction 96, July 2017, Lot 7, sold as “the finest example [that dealer] ha[d] seen.”)*

[Dealer's photo with obv. on right & rev. on left.]

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*The Nomes (from Greek: Νομός, "district") were the 60-70 administrative divisions of Egypt under the Ptolemies and Romans; the Egyptian term for a nome was “sepat.” See https://www.forumancientcoins.com/numiswiki/view.asp?key=Nomes. The Arsinoite Nome (known as “Arsinoites”), the capital of which was the city of Arsinoe, corresponded to the area of the Fayum Oasis or Basin, Lake Moeris, etc., west of the Nile and southwest of Cairo. See https://www.trismegistos.org/fayum/fayum2/gen_intro.php. It encompassed, among other things, the pyramid of Amenemhet III near the town of Hawara, north of the lake (the site of the famous necropolis where the Fayum mummy portraits were discovered). See id., see also the discussion, with photos including one of the Hawara pyramid, by “@jochen1” at https://www.cointalk.com/threads/amenemhet-iii.370249/#post-5138482

The Nomes coins were small bronze issues minted in Alexandria, each with the head of the reigning emperor on the obverse, and the name (in full or abbreviated, as with this coin) of a different Nome written in Greek on the reverse, together with an image ostensibly bearing some relationship to a deity or to cult worship associated with that Nome. They were issued under Domitian, Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus Pius, and Marcus Aurelius Caesar. See Numiswiki, supra. See also Emmett at p. xv for a discussion of the Nomes coinage, noting that Hadrian issued “the most nome coins in terms of numbers of coins issued, numbers of different reverse types and numbers of nomes.” Indeed, Emmett specifically singles out this type from among Hadrian’s extensive series of bronze Nome obols and dichalkons issued in Year 11, as one of “only two interesting reverse types that appear on Hadrian’s obols: that of a bust of an Egyptian King on his Arsinoite nome obol”; it is the only Nomes type bearing such an image. Id. Emmett makes no attempt to identify which “King.” However, RPC III 1749 expressly identifies the reverse image as “head of Premarres (Amenemhet III),” who reigned in the 12th Dynasty, from 1842-1797 BC. (The more common spellings seem to be “Pramarres” and “Amenenhat.”).  The evidence available online appears to support that identification.

Thus, Emmett states that “[t]hese coins depict the local cult-worship of each nome,” with “Horus and Isis . . . the god and goddess most often represented in their various forms on the reverses of the nome coins.” Id. But the entry for Nomes in Numiswiki, supra, argues that the fact that the Nomes coins were minted in Alexandria “robs them of the interest they would otherwise have possessed as calculated to throw light on local cults,” and that the purpose of the Nomes coinage should be regarded as “primarily commemorative.” See also BMC Alexandria 16 at pp. xcviii-c, discussing the issue at length, citing various examples, and concluding that it seems “certain that the Nome types were not only selected at Alexandria, but that the selection was independent of local worship unconnected with Alexandria. Thus the series loses much of its interest as its mythological value is small and uncertain,” except for Nomes near Alexandria. (Id. at p. c.)

But regardless of the significance of the reverse image on other Nome coins, a strong argument can be made that the image on the reverse of this type of the Nome coinage of Hadrian, bearing the name of the Arsinoite Nome -- unquestionably the image of a pharaoh, given the presence of the nemes and uraeus -- was, in fact, directly connected to cult worship in that Nome, which was the center of the cult of the deified Amenemhat III.

It would seem farfetched to conclude that it could be purely a coincidence that the Arsinoite Nome was the only one for which a Nome coin was issued depicting a pharaoh, and that the very same Nome was the center of the cult of Amenemhat III, as the site of his pyramid, up to and into the Greco-Roman period, until the rise of Christianity. The available evidence strongly suggests that it was not a coincidence. See Uytterhoeven, Inge, and Ingrid Blom-Böer. “New Light on the Egyptian Labyrinth: Evidence from a Survey at Hawara.” The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, vol. 88, 2002, pp. 111–120,. JSTORwww.jstor.org/stable/3822339 , accessed 5 Jan. 2021, stating as follows on its first page:

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See also https://www.trismegistos.org/fayum/fayum2/747.php?geo_id=747 -- trismegistos is “a platform aiming to surmount barriers of language and discipline in the study of texts from the ancient world, particularly late period Egypt” -- for a lengthy discussion of the archaeological excavations at Hawara, including at the pyramid of Amenemhat III. The discussion specifically notes that “the fullest topographical description [of the location] in the Graeco-Roman period is found in P.Hawara Lüdd. XIX (85 BC): ‘the necropolis, which is in the Souchos village Hawara in the exo topoi in the area on the north side of the Moeris canal in the meris of Herakleides in the Arsinoite nome.’" (Emphasis added.) Thus, the location of the tomb of Amenemhat III within the Arsinoite Nome is not in question.

The website states as follows:

“Hawara owed its fame to Pramarres, the 12th Dynasty pharaoh Amenemhat III, who built his funerary complex at Hawara around 1800 BC. The Labyrinth, south of the pyramid, was evidently the main cult centre of the deified pharaoh (photo). The cult is attested by Ptolemaic dedications, such as I.Fayum I 34 and 35 (both 1st cent. BC) and the demotic stele Stewart 1983 Nr. 81 (Ptolemaic period).”

The website also discusses how well-known the necropolis near the pyramid was, as far away as Alexandria (where this coin was minted), specifically because of its connection with the deified Amenemhat III. Note the reference to a will executed between 117 and 138 AD, i.e., during the reign of Hadrian:

“Hawara, ideally located at the desert edge and easily accessible from the metropolis by the Bahr Yussuf, was a logical choice as necropolis for the nome capital. For some it was a privilege to be buried in the sacred area near the tomb and temple of the deified Amenemhat. Thus an anonymous metropolite, who lived at Tebtynis, explicitly mentioned in his last will that he wanted to be buried 'near the Labyrinth' (SB VIII 9642 l.4; 117-138 AD). At least part of the Hellenized elite buried at Hawara must have lived in the metropolis, e.g. the gymnasiarchs Tiberius Iulius Asklepiades and Dios and their wives. The specification ᾿Αρσινοείτης added to the occupation of the wool merchant Apollinarios (SB I 3965/III 7084; 2nd century AD) and the mention of the agora; τῶν ἱματοπωλῶν on the mummy label of Diodoros (SB XVIII 13654; Roman period) suggest that these too were inhabitants of Arsinoe.

Hawara also attracted persons from other places in the Arsinoite nome. Thus the body of an undertaker of Alexandrou Nesos had to be placed in a family tomb at Hawara (P.Hawara Lüdd. IV; 220 BC). The unpublished account P.Ashm. I 30 lists deceased from the village Mendes, from Ptolemais Hormou and even from Meidoum in the Memphite nome. There may even be a relation between the place of origin of the dead and the cult places of Pramarres in the Fayum (e.g. Alexandrou Nesos and Tebtynis).

Indeed, even people from outside the Fayum found their last resting place at Hawara, as is attested by the correspondence between the undertakers of Alexandria with those of Hawara (SB I 5216; 101, 68 or 39 BC) and by the mummy label of Pantagathos, sent "to the Arsinoite nome" (SB I 3967).”

(Emphasis added.)

The conclusion that the image of a pharaoh on the reverse of this coin of the Arsinoite Nome was intended to represent the deified pharaoh Pramarres, i.e. Amenemhat III -- regardless of the fact that the coinage was minted in Alexandria -- appears inescapable. The type is historically significant, given that there is no other Egyptian pharaoh represented on Roman Alexandrian coinage.

Some others:

Hadrian, Billon Tetradrachm, Year 12 (127/128 AD), Alexandria, Egypt Mint. Obv. Laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, seen from rear, ΑΥΤ ΚΑΙ - ΤΡΑΙ  ΑΔΡΙΑ ϹƐΒ / Rev. Mummiform Ptah-Sokar-Osiris* standing right, wearing solar disk as headdress, holding was scepter tipped with jackal head, L ΔWΔƐ-ΚΑΤΟΥ [= Year 12 spelled out].  RPC [Roman Provincial Coinage] Vol. III 5713 (2015); RPC III Online at https://rpc.ashmus.ox.ac.uk/coins/3/5713,  Emmett 883.12 [Emmett, Keith, Alexandrian Coins (Lodi, WI, 2001)]; BMC 16 Alexandria 637 & Pl. XXIII [Poole, Reginald Stuart, A Catalog of the Greek Coins in the British Museum, Vol. 16, Alexandria (London, 1892)]; Sear RCV II 3732; Köln 982 [Geissen, A., Katalog alexandrinischer Kaisermünzen, Köln, Band II (Hadrian-Antoninus Pius) (Cologne, 1978, corrected reprint 1987)]; Dattari (Savio) 1445 [Savio, A. ed., Catalogo completo della collezione Dattari Numi Augg. Alexandrini (Trieste, 2007)]; Milne 1262 at p. 31 (scepter with jackal-head top) [Milne, J.G., Catalogue of Alexandrian Coins (Oxford 1933, reprint with supplement by Colin M. Kraay, 1971)]. 24 mm., 13.85 g., 11 h.

image.jpeg.2685086d0c214eb2fce8605606fc5b90.jpeg

*From the description in the CNG Triton XXI Catalog (Staffieri Collection, Jan 9. 2018 ) of the example from the Dattari Collection (No. 1445), sold in the Triton XXI auction as Lot 61: “The image of the Ptah-Sokar-Osiris divinity belongs to Egyptian theology, and in particular to funeral worship. It brings together three famous members of the Pharaonic Pantheon through their respective symbols: the headdress and scepter for Ptah, the solar disk for Osiris, and the mummiform wrappings for Sokar – the ‘Lord of the Necropolis.’ These three associated divinities call upon the concepts of ‘mourning’ and ‘life’, evoking at the same time the pain associated with death and the hope of resurrection. The main sanctuaries of Ptah, Sokar, and Osiris were at Memphis and Abydos.”

Hadrian, Billon Tetradrachm, Year 11 (126/127 AD), Alexandria, Egypt Mint. Obv. Laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, seen from rear, ΑΥΤ ΚΑΙ - ΤΡΑΙ ΑΔΡΙΑ ϹƐΒ / Rev. Canopic Jar of Osiris (a/k/a Osiris-Canopus Jar and Osiris-Hydreios)* facing right, surmounted by Atef crown above ram[?] horns; body of jar with decorations including disk and horns below right, walking male figure to left; L ΕΝΔ - EKATΟΥ [= Year 11 spelled out]. RPC [Roman Provincial Coinage] Vol. III 5640 (2015); RPC III Online 5640  at  https://rpc.ashmus.ox.ac.uk/coins/3/5640; Köln 939 [Geissen, A., Katalog alexandrinischer Kaisermünzen, Köln, Band II (Hadrian-Antoninus Pius) (Cologne, 1978, corrected reprint 1987)]; Milne 1205 at p. 30 [Milne, J.G., Catalogue of Alexandrian Coins (Oxford 1933, reprint with supplement by Colin M. Kraay, 1971)]; Emmett 827.11 [Emmett, Keith, Alexandrian Coins (Lodi, WI, 2001)]; Dattari (Savio) 1327 [Savio, A. ed., Catalogo completo della collezione Dattari Numi Augg. Alexandrini (Trieste, 2007)].  25 mm., 13.41 g. (Purchased from Harlan J. Berk, Ltd., 212th Buy or Bid Sale, August 2020, Lot 497.)

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*See https://egypt-museum.com/post/189683370661/osiris-canopus-jar#gsc.tab=0, with photos of the Osiris-Canopus Jar from Hadrian’s Villa, now at the Vatican Museum, describing it as “A Canopic jar with the head of Osiris emerging from it. In the cult of Isis and Serapis, during the Ptolemaic and Roman periods. Osiris-Canopus jars (also known as Osiris-Hydreios) were carried by priests during processions. As they are solid, each symbolically carried water from the Nile, fertility that originated from the god Osiris, one of Egypt’s earliest fertility gods. Osiris-Canopus was named after the ancient Egyptian town of Canopus, on the western bank at the mouth of the westernmost branch of the Delta known as the Canopic or Heracleotic branch – not far from Alexandria. Roman Period, ca. 131-138 AD. Grey basalt, from Hadrian’s Villa. Now in the Vatican Museums (Gregoriano Egizio). 22852.”

 

Antoninus Pius, Billon Tetradrachm, Year 2 (138-139 AD), Alexandria, Egypt Mint.  Obv. Bare head right with traces of drapery, ΑVΤ Κ Τ ΑΙΛ ΑΔΡ ΑΝΤѠNΙΝΟϹ ƐVϹƐΒ / Rev. Canopic Jar of Osiris (a/k/a Osiris-Canopus Jar), bearded, right, standing on cushion, crowned with horns, disk, plumes, and uraei; body of jar with decorations including diagonal lines beginning in upper left, and, in upper right, horizontal lines enclosed with border of dots in shape of shield [see https://rpc.ashmus.ox.ac.uk/coin/120672 for specimen (No. 26 of RPC IV.4 13409) with virtually identical decorations on body of jar], ƐΤΟ-VϹ around from 8:00, Β (Year 2) in right field beneath end of legend. RPC IV.4 Online 13409 (temp.) (see https://rpc.ashmus.ox.ac.uk/coins/4/13409); Emmett 1373.2, BMC 16 Alexandria 992 at p. 115; Milne 1591 at p. 40 (ill. at Pl. I) [body described as “entirely draped,” differentiated at p. 136 from other specimens]; K&G 35.6 (ill. p. 158); Sear RCV II 4339 (ill. p. 241). 22 mm., 9.84 g. Purchased on Jan. 14, 2022 from Keith Candiotti (Miami, FL) at NYINC 2022

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Hadrian, AE Diobol, Year 16 (131/132 AD), Alexandria, Egypt Mint. Obv. Laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, seen from rear, ΑΥΤ ΚΑΙ - ΤΡΑΙ ΑΔΡΙΑ ϹƐΒ / Rev. Isis as mother, crowned with disk and horns, seated right on throne, offering left breast to infant Harpocrates (Horus-as-child) sitting on her knee crowned with skhent and holding lotus stalk in left hand; on corners of back of throne, two hawks/falcons (representing Horus), facing each other, each wearing skhent, L - IϚ [= Year 16] across fields. Emmett 1138.16 [Emmett, Keith, Alexandrian Coins (Lodi, WI, 2001)]; RPC [Roman Provincial Coinage] Vol. III 5813 (2015); RPC III Online at https://rpc.ashmus.ox.ac.uk/coins/3/5813;  BMC 16 Alexandria 762 at p. 90 & PL. XVI [Poole, Reginald Stuart, A Catalog of the Greek Coins in the British Museum, Vol. 16, Alexandria (London, 1892)]; Dattari (Savio) 1749 [Savio, A. ed., Catalogo completo della collezione Dattari Numi Augg. Alexandrini (Trieste, 2007)]; Köln 1046 [Geissen, A., Katalog alexandrinischer KaisermünzenKöln, Band II (Hadrian-Antoninus Pius) (Cologne, 1978, corrected reprint 1987)]; K&G 32.530 [Kampmann, Ursula & Ganschow, Thomas, Die Münzen der römischen Münzstätte Alexandria  (2008)]; cf. Milne 1345-1346 at p. 33 [Isis seated left*] [Milne, J.G., Catalogue of Alexandrian Coins (Oxford 1933, reprint with supplement by Colin M. Kraay, 1971)]. Purchased from Shick Coins, Ashdod, Israel, Dec. 2020; Israel Antiquities Authority Export License No. 42927, 02/02/2021. 23 mm., 8.6 g.

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*The description in Milne may be erroneous, since neither Emmett nor BMC 16 lists any diobols for Hadrian with Isis seated left holding Harpocrates, whether in Year 16 or any other year.

Antoninus Pius Billon Tetradrachm, Year 23 (159-160 AD), Alexandria, Egypt Mint. Obv. Laureate and draped bust right, ΑΝΤѠΝΙΝΟϹ - ϹƐΒ ƐVϹƐΒ (beginning on upper right) / Rev. Isis crowned with disk, horns, and plumes, seated right offering her right breast to crowned Harpocrates [“Horus-as-Child”] seated on her lap; Harpocrates extends his right hand towards her and holds lotus flower in left hand; crowned falcon [Horus] perched right on left end of back of throne, L -  Γ [G] /K [= Year 23] across field.  Emmett 1402.23; Milne 2405 at p. 57 [Milne, J.G., Catalogue of Alexandrian Coins (Oxford 1933, reprint with supplement by Colin M. Kraay, 1971)]; Dattari (Savio) 2257; RPC IV.4 Online, 13938 (temporary) (see https://rpc.ashmus.ox.ac.uk/coins/4/13938); Köln (Geissen) 1842 [same dies, see RPC Online 13938 at the link provided, Example 3]; Sear RCV II 4377; K&G 35.810.  21x28 mm., 11.67 g. Ex. Harlan J. Berk, Ltd., 168th Buy or Bid Sale, March 16, 2010Lot 475.

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Anonymous, unpublished, AE[?] Tessera, 2nd Century AD[?], Alexandria, Egypt Mint. Obv. Crowned Bust of Nilus left, with cornucopiae behind and, in front, bust of Harpocrates [infant Horus], seen in profile, facing left, wearing skhent crown, with left arm and forefinger held up to mouth / Rev.  On left, Serpent Uraeus [sacred cobra, worn by deities and pharaohs] with female breasts and human head of Isis (as Isis-Thermouthis), crowned with solar disk and horns, standing facing, with coils enfolding sistrum upright to left*; on right, Osiris (mummiform) wearing Atef crown above horns, standing facing with arms crossed over chest holding crook and flail.** 15.60 mm., 2.52 g. Purchased from Naville Numismatics Auction 72 (27 Mar 2022), Lot 305; ex. “private British collection.”

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*See https://rhakotis.com/2017/10/24/isis-thermouthis-snake-goddess/: 

“For the Egyptians the cobra signified fecundity, protection and blessing. The cobra goddess was Renenutet. Such associations may be due to the fact that cobras were more visible during the inundation period because their normal habitations would be flooded. They would also kill the rats, who become more common during these months, and who spread disease and eat seeds which had been sown. The cobra goddess’ protective power was probably a result of the fearsome killing power of the snake. Most intriguingly, from an early period Renenutet was associated with control over fortune. During the late period, Isis became associated with Renenutet forming the composite goddess Isis-Thermouthis. . . . Often found in terracotta, Isis-Thermouthis is portrayed as a half woman, half snake. She often wears the attributes of Isis: the cow horns and moon disk (taken from Hathor), the tyet (or Isis knot), the lit torch (taken from Demeter). The most notable thing about this goddess is her body shape. Different statuettes will show her in three broad groups of body shape which are woman from the waist up and snake below, a snake with a woman’s head and a complete snake bearing only the attributes of Isis.” (Emphasis added.) 

See also https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/X__2195: “During the Roman Period, Isis and Serapis were revered as deities of prosperity. Representations of Isis, with or without Serapis, represented as cobras or with a cobra body, were popular in Roman Egypt (attested for example in Alexandria, Canopus and Oxyrhynchus) and are usually dated to the 2nd century AD.”  [Insert two photos.] 

Note also that Isis is often depicted holding a sistrum; see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sistrum. 

**The crook and flail “were originally the attributes of the deity Osiris that became insignia of pharaonic authority. The shepherd's crook stood for kingship and the flail for the fertility of the land.” (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crook_and_flail.)

Julia Domna, AR Denarius ca. 201 AD, Rome Mint. Obv. Draped bust right, hair waved vertically and fastened in large bun in back, IVLIA AVGVSTA / Rev. Isis, wearing polos on head, draped, standing three-quarters right, head right, holding the nursing infant Horus in left arm against left breast, with her right hand holding a wreath or other ring-shaped object against her chest, her left foot against prow of galley, right, and her left knee bent with Horus resting on it; to left of Isis, rudder rests against altar; SAECVLI FELICITAS.  RIC IV-1 577 (p. 170), RSC III 174 (ill.), Sear RCV II 6606, BMCRE 166. 18x20 mm., 3.35 g., 6 h. Ex. A.K. Collection; ex. CNG Triton XX Auction, Jan. 10, 2017, part of Lot # 614, No. E027.

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Edited by DonnaML
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4 hours ago, JeandAcre said:

@robinjojo, I need to give @DonnaML Major props for having first turned me on to these Roman provincials with the amazingly faithful renditions of these Pharaonic motifs.  I think she's done a thread on them, or at least posted a Bunch of them in a related one.  But everyone's are just really compelling.  ...Another kind of ancient that I'd Really like to find a representative example of, even as a one-off.

...But your Phoenician shekel is in a different league.  The proximity to the end of the Pharaonic period age eon, both chronologically and geographically, from a polity with a lengthy history of contact with it, is ...well, time to access Gestalt mode: WOW.  That's looking like the closest you'll ever get to an actual late Pharaonic coin.

Thanks!

I have a theory regarding the reverse themes of the Phoenician shekel.  Since the Phoenicians were trading people of legend, I think, though I don't have any real basis, that the incorporation of the vulture and ram was an attempt by the king of Byblos to make the shekel more acceptable to the Egyptians, whose grain supplies were essential for the survival of city states, such as Athens and kingdoms around the Mediterranean in the time of antiquity.  Also, this coinage had to compete with the widely accepted owls of Athens.

Since many traders recognized coins by design features, perhaps the presence of these two important figures in Egyptian mythology, along with the obverse, which clearly boasts of the sea power of Byblos, made these shekels more appealing or trusted.  However, I do not know of this design continuing for a long period, as this coin is very rare.  In fact I have not come across a comparable example for quite some time, though I have seen a couple of quarter shekels of this type.  Far more often one encounters the Byblos shekel with the lion attacking a bull, a later emission.

In the end it seems that Athens won, as the owl coinage continued to the first century BC in Athens and elsewhere as local imitations.   The Phoenician shekel also survived, continuing in parts of the Levant and, of course, Carthage, but of an increasingly debased nature. 

Edited by robinjojo
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@robinjojo, I have to think that, this early in numismatic history, especially in this part of the world, a primary, de facto function of trade was to accelerate levels of interconnection between neighboring ethnicities, which were already happening on profound cultural levels.  Even in the context of the Phoenicians, the coins merely (for lack of a better word) symptomize the dynamics that were already in place. 

...Imagine walking through miles of desert.  After, say, four of them, you happen across a party going in the opposite direction, including a young lady who's Really pretty.  Are you likely to care what color she is?  ...That's all I ever said.  (...To mix cliche, My two cents, for what they're worth.)

 

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Yipe.  Had to do it.  I just got an example of one of @DonnaML's iconic examples.  Hers is posted here: 

After consulting with Donna (thanks again, Donna), I landed this one.

Picture 2 of 3

Picture 3 of 3

I'm loving it already.  

This is another repost, but it's a cool complement to the migration of the Egyptian ethos into the Hellenistic and Roman world.

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Meroe (early post-Napatan period), 3rd c. BCE.  Small amulet with the ram's horns of Amun.  Bought from a dealer who was listing on ebayUK, but with provenance going back to Christie's, and the collection of a prominent scholar and collector of the last century.  The dealer very kindly sent enough about the Christie's listing to make it easy to find online.

https://www.christies.com/lot/lot-ten-ancient-stone-and-faience-amulets-circa-5958746/?from=salesummary&intObjectID=5958746&sid=a0a36dc0-f259-425f-afbf-3cefb3a4e2aa

I'm not sure about current scholarly consensus on this, or if there is one, but it's recently been argued that the Napatan kingdom (which produced the 25th Egyptian dynasty) may have preceded the Egyptian one, with much of the same cultural infrastructure.  What you hear more often is that their origins are effectively contemporaneous.  At any rate, Amun was the primary deity both in Napata and the kingdom under the succeeding capital, Meroe, which was further up the Nile.

Edited by JeandAcre
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I have several coins with Egyptian themes. The oddest one is this piece of Nerva featuring the Agathadaemon spirit in the form of a cobra, holding cadeucus within its coils, and also wearing the pskent crown of Upper and Lower Egypt. In the syncretic atmosphere of late Antiquity, agathodaemons could be bound up with Egyptian bringers of security and good fortune: a gem carved with magic emblems bears the images of Serapis with crocodile, sun-lion and Osiris mummy surrounded by the lion-headed snake Chnum–Agathodaemon–Aion, with Harpocrates on the reverse.

The discussion above of Hawara above mentions Tebtunis, a city in the Fayyum which was a tutelary seat of Sobek the crocodile god known locally as Sobek-Neb-Tunis. Several mummy portraits (as depicted below) have been recovered from Tebtunis and the Arsinoite nome. The portraits depict the Greco-Roman elite from the mid second to mid third centuries. (By elite, we refer to those who could afford formal embalming, mummification, and an artist rendering).

P.S.  I have been a benefactor of the Tebtunis Papyrus Project since 2011 at the University of California's Bancroft Library.

nervatet.jpg.da1f02d5e5339bb83a993d43497456ed.jpg

mumy.jpg.f372cabe902b3c5a3209f47a8fdb1dcb.jpg

mummy1.jpg.2934caf7acc0924560624c845776cf08.jpg

 

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21 hours ago, JeandAcre said:

Yipe.  Had to do it.  I just got an example of one of @DonnaML's iconic examples.  Hers is posted here: 

After consulting with Donna (thanks again, Donna), I landed this one.

Picture 2 of 3

Picture 3 of 3

I'm loving it already.  

This is another repost, but it's a cool complement to the migration of the Egyptian ethos into the Hellenistic and Roman world.

image.jpeg.721056dc9a03e2f3fd07d7aafebc0d11.jpeg

image.jpeg.8c76cb11af1f531a0afa34b688aa87c6.jpeg

Meroe (early post-Napatan period), 3rd c. BCE.  Small amulet with the ram's horns of Amun.  Bought from a dealer who was listing on ebayUK, but with provenance going back to Christie's, and the collection of a prominent scholar and collector of the last century.  The dealer very kindly sent enough about the Christie's listing to make it easy to find online.

https://www.christies.com/lot/lot-ten-ancient-stone-and-faience-amulets-circa-5958746/?from=salesummary&intObjectID=5958746&sid=a0a36dc0-f259-425f-afbf-3cefb3a4e2aa

I'm not sure about current scholarly consensus on this, or if there is one, but it's recently been argued that the Napatan kingdom (which produced the 25th Egyptian dynasty) may have preceded the Egyptian one, with much of the same cultural infrastructure.  What you hear more often is that their origins are effectively contemporaneous.  At any rate, Amun was the primary deity both in Napata and the kingdom under the succeeding capital, Meroe, which was further up the Nile.

Nice coin and scarab!  The scarab appears to be made from a variety of quartz, possible chalcedony, judging from the translucency and finish. Quartz is very hard, 7 on the Mohs scale of 0 (talc) to 10 (diamond).  I imagine that it was originally a water worn pebble.

Edited by robinjojo
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Many thanks, @robinjojo!  But the scarab is actually a small amulet;  I should have included one of the pics that show the hole through the side.  The link to the Christie's listing shows it as part of a lot; it's described as white jasper.  Not knowing my different kinds of stone (...same with trees, birds, and lots of other stuff I wish I had any of the taxonomy for), I'm the last one to tell you how close that is to quartz.  Now I want to Wiki that.

...Oh, No!  Just was looking at the pics of the amulet, and all but the two I posted are corrupted!  Gasp.  Maybe I can find them on an old post....

(Edit:)  Whoah!  The Wiki article begins with this: "Jasper, an aggregate of microgranular quartz and/or cryptocrystalline chalcedony and other mineral phases...."  You Nailed it!!!

Edited by JeandAcre
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21 minutes ago, JeandAcre said:

Many thanks, @robinjojo!  But the scarab is actually a small amulet;  I should have included one of the pics that show the hole through the side.  The link to the Christie's listing shows it as part of a lot; it's described as white jasper.  Not knowing my different kinds of stone (...same with trees, birds, and lots of other stuff I wish I had any of the taxonomy for), I'm the last one to tell you how close that is to quartz.  Now I want to Wiki that.

...Oh, No!  Just was looking at the pics of the amulet, and all but the two I posted are corrupted!  Gasp.  Maybe I can find them on an old post....

(Edit:)  Whoah!  The Wiki article begins with this: "Jasper, an aggregate of microgranular quartz and/or cryptocrystalline chalcedony and other mineral phases...."  You Nailed it!!!

I've seen the term white jasper used before.  The determinant used to distinguish jasper from chalcedony is translucency.  Jasper, a massive coarse grain form of quartz, is opaque, usually with impurities such as iron oxide present, while chalcedony, a finer grained form of massive quartz, leans towards translucency.  Chalcedony can also have impurities, such as iron oxide (carnelian) or nickel oxide (chrysoprase).

If you shine a light behind your amulet and see a glow coming through, I would say it is made of chalcedony, based on my 50+ years collecting the quartz family.  

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Wow, @robinjojo, many thanks for all the resonantly fun --and equally substantive-- enlightenment!

I hadn't even looked at the amulet until now.  The hole is actually only through the little knob at the top of each of the pictures.  But, Yep, it's translucent as get-out!  Many, Many thanks for all of this.  (Edit:) From now on, I'll do what I can to acknowledge your help regarding the chalcedony.

Edited by JeandAcre
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