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A probable favorite of 2024


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I have announced this minute copper-lead alloy AE14 2.14g of Ilium minted probably for Augustus as BC was turning into AD in @DonnaML's post about the first entries of 2024:


AE14mm 2.14g leaded bronze fraction, minted at Ilium ca. very late 1st century BC or early 1st century AD
ΙΛΙ; bare head of Augustus(?), right
owl flanked by monograms
RPC I 2308, Bellinger T116


It is part of a series of very small copper-based issues that seem to mark the transition to direct Roman rule over the city, of which only the somewhat larger type (RPC I 2311) names Augustus as Sebastos (so at the very least post-27BC). The overall design and alloy is very similar to the Phrygian Laodicea coinage for Gaius Caesar of 5BC, including the reverse where two monograms flank the main iconographical device. Theoretically at least, the bare head on the obverse could be any of Augustus heirs, including Tiberius, considering the larger denominations in orichalcum are introduced at Ilium later, with Caligula.

The reverse owl is the point of attraction for me, certainly a reference to Pallas-Athena Ilios-Minerva as the local cult of Pallas and the legend of the Palladium became intertwined with the Roman cult of Minerva as Ilium was started to integrate into the Empire.

An intriguing possibility is that the coin is the specimen from the Edward J. Waddell Auction 1 (1982) lot 169, as noted in RPC but without an image. The specifications fit.


Edited by seth77
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