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Sulla80
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Posted (edited)

I am not expecting that most collectors look at this coin and say "Wow, That's a beautiful coin", I myself didn't have that reaction. I do see an intriguing coin and this is about a nice you can find in a late 3rd century, billion (silver alloy, BI) stater from the Bosporus. The mystery of this coin is what attracted me.

Bosporus Kingdom

Some quick notes about the region over time. David McDonald's 2005 book on "History and Coinage of the Kingdom of Bosporos" from CNG is an excellent book for information on this region and the coins and the source for most of this post. There were several major tribes in the region and subdivisions even in these subdivisions:

- The Greeks who first settled there in the 7th century or perhaps even earlier.

- The Cimmerians of Iranian origins who were there before the Greeks.

- The Scythians who came from Iran in the 7th century BC.

- The Sarmatian tribes who traded with the Bostporans but also fought against them at times.

- The Sindoi, an agricultural tribe who readily assimilated with the Greeks.

- The Goths from Germany who weakened the Bosporan kingdom in the 3rd Century AD....

- and others

Some of the place names reflect the agricultural richness of the area: Panticapeum appears to come from "Panti Kapa" meaning "fish route" in the language of settlers from Iran. The name Bosporus which comes from Greek βοὸς πόρος meaning "cattle passage" (or perhaps "Ox-ford"). We hear today in the news of the grain from Ukraine - the region was a center of grain production thousands of years ago - the Athenians controlled Nynphaeum in the 5th century BC as a source of grain for the city. Grain, salted fish, hides, slaves, gold and other exports came from this region. From the second century the Roman military maintained a military headquarters in Chersonesus after it was granted "freedom" in 145 BC by Rome.

image.png.e6d1db693f93249d86fdf9c43e9566aa.png

In the decades before this coin was issued (240's and 250's) the Goths weakened the kingdom - dominating the area around Lake Maeotis and destroying the city of Tanais (see north end of Lake Maeotis in map above).  The Romans were no help as they had their own challenges to deal with.

Quote

Meanwhile the Borani, the Goths, the Carpi, and the Urugundi, nations that dwell on the Ister, left no part of Italy or Illyricum unpillaged, but devasted all without any opposition. The Borani, indeed, attempted to pass over into Asia, which they easily effected by the aid of those that reside on the Bosphorus, who were induced more through fear than good-will to supply them with vessels, and to guide them in their passage.

- Zosimus, 1.31

Staters from Rescuporis IV vary in silver content from 15-50% with an small number of the staters from 560 Bosporan Era or BE (the year of this coin and the 20th year of Rhescuporis' reign) issued in fine silver.  My coin is not a fine silver rarity.

I have a small sub-collection of coins from Valerian, Gallienus & family - inspired by my first Roman coin a sestertius of Valerian.  The reason this coin was interesting to me is the mystery of the two emperors on the coin?  Valerian was captured by Shapur I in 260 and both of Gallienus' sons were dead:  Valerian II died in Illyricum early in the year  in 258 AD, perhaps of battle wounds or natural causes.  Saloninus became Caesar later in the year 258 and was elevated to Augustus at approximately age 17 in 260 AD with the murdered along with praetorian prefect Silvanus  within a few weeks or months by Postumus.  

This leaves the mystery: who is this second emperor on the coin of Rhescuporis IV?  Roman coins at this time are from Gallienus as sole emperor.  It certainly seems odd that a coin would include the disgraced Valerian I with the emperor Gallienus - years after his capture.  While the coin is listed in auctions as "vis-à-vis of Valerian I and Gallienus" - McDonald is less committed "busts of two emperors" and describes the coin as "puzzling".

image.thumb.png.ceaedcd1d56d67d74900f7bfab3f6e0f.png

Roman Provincial Coin, Kings of Bosporus, Rhescuporis IV (Circa AD 242/3-276/7), BI Stater (8g, 19mm,12h) dated BE 560 (AD 263/4)
Obv: BACIΛЄΩC PHCKOVΠOPIΔO., diademed and draped bust of Rhescuporis right; trident before
Rev: Laureate and draped busts vis-à-vis of Valerian I and Gallienus; pellet between, ΞΦ (date) below
Ref: MacDonald 619/1

As always, your additions, corrections, comments and coins are appreciated.

Share your coins of Gallienus, Bostporan Staters, coins with mystery characters or anything else you find interesting or entertaining.

Edited by Sulla80
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Intriguing for sure, and I would actually say that it's interesting style makes it kinda beautiful to look at. Gallienus should be one of the two emperors, so here is my coin of him:

20220417_221950.thumb.jpg.1aa3d453e69296c49961a791c371c275.jpg

Who the other emperor could be? Can't wait for the numismatic society to make some guesses!

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I have always been interested in the Bosporan Kingdom. They were literally Romaboos (literally, Philorhomaion) during the Empire's time and were the last Greek realm to be conquered, not by Romans but by Goths. They also developed Hypsistarianism, basically a new Pseudo-Jewish religion altogether. Their portraiture keeps that 3rd Century Crisis decline even after the Diocletianic reforms, which makes it all the funnier. All in all, even if not my collecitng niche and not really inside my budget most of the time, I will eventually get one. Down below isn't my coin, but really embodies what I believe is peak Greek coinage (Alexander the Great/Owl Tetradrachms? Who has those?)

8980429.m.jpg

(Ininthimeus, King of Bosporus, left|Gordian III right)

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6 minutes ago, Helvius Pertinax said:

Intriguing for sure, and I would actually say that it's interesting style makes it kinda beautiful to look at. Gallienus should be one of the two emperors, so here is my coin of him:

20220417_221950.thumb.jpg.1aa3d453e69296c49961a791c371c275.jpg

Who the other emperor could be? Can't wait for the numismatic society to make some guesses!

That Gallienus sure looks decent, so Un-Gallienusy! 😆For the Emperor behind... I'm not telling, let's just say he got a severe case of Valens. 

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13 minutes ago, Helvius Pertinax said:

Intriguing for sure, and I would actually say that it's interesting style makes it kinda beautiful to look at. Gallienus should be one of the two emperors, so here is my coin of him:

20220417_221950.thumb.jpg.1aa3d453e69296c49961a791c371c275.jpg

Who the other emperor could be? Can't wait for the numismatic society to make some guesses!

@Helvius Pertinax, it's Trajan Decius --you should've covered more of the legend; then it would Really be a guess!  Really solid examples, by the way.

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14 minutes ago, GordianAppreciator101 said:

That Gallienus sure looks decent, so Un-Gallienusy! 😆For the Emperor behind... I'm not telling, let's just say he got a severe case of Valens. 

Oh, i might have phrased it a bit bad, of course I know who the emperor on my other coin is, it's hard to not recognize his face 😂 I was referring to the Bosporian coin.

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(Sorry for the font size....)

BTW, @Sulla80, that's a Fantastic coin, with lots of very coolly arcane history.  That part of the world, with its myriad cultural dynamics, is the sort of context that it's fun even to appreciate one's ignorance of (Teacher, I Raise My Hand).

Granted that I mostly hang out in western Europe, mainly later Carolingian -14th century, I've lately discovered Sasanian coins and, at least superficially, history.  Not long ago, I won this lot.  ...All I have are the dealer's pics, and don't even have the means to crop them.  But what intrigued me was the one in the lower left.  As such, it was an impulse buy in the throes of live bidding.  All I knew was that it was Roman provincial, c. Severan or a little later.  But the client king's crown funly evoked Sasanian ones.  

2042116624_LOTABGARABGAROSBMC144DIOCLETIANTITUSMAYBEORDOMITIANVESP....thumb.jpg.bb6deba652299f40ddf0bdc7e433c38e.jpg

Going to Wildwinds --best I've got for ancients-- I did a legend search for Abgaros, and found that it was a coissue of Abgar X (who effectively ruled only in name) and Gordian III (BMC 144).  Abgar was king of Osroene, but this late, he ruled only in name.  The map shows Osroene and other, neighboring Roman client kingdoms as of c. 200 CE.  (Effectively due south of the Black Sea.)1708419255_ABGAROSROENENorthern_Mesopotamian_vassal_kingdoms_AD_200.png.f6aacdd1164c74d7c544c89842b3ec42.png

...I didn't just get a cool coin; I found out something about a kingdom I'd literally never heard of before!  ...Never mind that I had zero representation of Diocletian, and maybe one or two Flavian coins.  ...From here, the Antoninus Pius is kind of a yawner.  But anyone here is cordially invited to tell me I'm wrong!  Along with weighing in on whether the Flavian one is --as I'm guessing-- Titus or Domitian.  --Or is it really Vespasian, as per the legend fragment?  Didn't look like him, but consider the source!

 

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2 hours ago, Valentinian said:

Here is my site on coins of the Kingdom of the Bosporus:

http://augustuscoins.com/ed/Bosporus/

Thanks for the link @Valentinian, lots of nice coins and useful references as well.  Seeing the coins of Rhescuporis IV on your site also reminded me how he lasted through quite a few Roman emperors from 242/3 to 276/7.  You show coins with Philip I, Trajan Decius, Gallienus & Valerian, and Gallienus. Equally interesting that there are no staters from BE 565, 566, 567, 568, 569, 570, 572 (ten years from AD 265-275).

 

I'll add two of Trebonianianus Gallus (reigned 251 to August 253) these two staters cover most of his reign - although I don't have the coin that does exist of 253/4 MΦ 550 BE.  More "not beautiful" coins.

ΘMΦ 549 BE or AD 252-253.

1714952044_StaterBosporusTrebGallus.thumb.jpg.fd2857ddaac02580ab63674403b64e36.jpg

Kings of Bosporos. Rheskouporis IV BI Stater. Dated Bosporan Era 549 = AD 252-253. Diademed and draped bust of Rheskouporis right; blundered legend / Laureate head of Trebonianus Gallus right; uncertain symbol before, ΘMΦ (date) below. Cf. MacDonald 611.

and another from HMΦ or 548 BE == AD 251/2

image.thumb.png.4ac46e3724d5dec50194f6a047de08ec.png

KINGS of BOSPORUS - RHESKOUPORIS IV Stater 242-276 MacDonald 610; Anokhin 699; Diademed and draped bust of Rheskouporis right; blundered legend / Laureate head of Trebonianus Gallus right; uncertain symbol before, HMΦ (date) below

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Posted (edited)

Hi @JeandAcre, loots like a great lot - and nice Abgar X!  to my view it the Flavian seems unambiguously Vespasian.  Here's one that looks almost the same as yours sold by CNG in 2009.

I think DOMITIAN would read "DOMITIAN"

image.png.76bfbaf4828f1f4de5ef42eac0d7ef0f.png

and TITUS would read "T CAES"

image.png.524614cd4a7c188ea3ef9c9942370856.png

 

Edited by Sulla80
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Great write up and coin @Sulla80

I guess it's time to throw in my two bosporan staters (many of you have seen them on another forum (can't type the C word 😉 ))

0180-450.jpg.b27f9dd0ddc9cc337fd5d4032e335d1d.jpg

Bosporan kingdom - Sauromates II & Septimius Severus – El stater, dated 491 (194-195 CE)
BACIΛΕωC CAVPOMATOV (anticlockwise). Draped and diademed bust of Sauromates II right
Laureate head of Septimius Severus right. Star in right field. Retrograd VPA at exergue (year 491)
7,69 gr – 20 mm
Ref : MacDonald # 502/2, Sear # 5476 v

 

0190-450.jpg.f41f748f1d2be416f76deec0cc050d8a.jpg

Bosporan kingdom - Rhescuporis II & Caracalla - El stater, dated 513 (216-217 CE)
BACIΛΕωC ΡHCKOΥΠOΡIΔOC (anticlockwise). Draped and diademed bust of Rhescuporis II right, before, trident.
Laureate and draped bust of Caracalla right. ΓΙΦ at exergue (year 513)
7,63 gr – 18 mm
Ref : MacDonald # 556/3

Q

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Posted (edited)
17 minutes ago, Qcumbor said:

Bosporan kingdom - Rhescuporis II & Caracalla - El stater, dated 513 (216-217 CE)

Thanks Q - one of these days I may need to add an earlier stater (with some actual gold and silver content) - your Caracalla is especially nice in my view!

Edited by Sulla80
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5 hours ago, Sulla80 said:

Hi @JeandAcre, loots like a great lot - and nice Abgar X!  to my view it the Flavian seems unambiguously Vespasian.  Here's one that looks almost the same as yours sold by CNG in 2009.

I think DOMITIAN would read "DOMITIAN"

image.png.76bfbaf4828f1f4de5ef42eac0d7ef0f.png

and TITUS would read "T CAES"

image.png.524614cd4a7c188ea3ef9c9942370856.png

 

Many thanks. @Sulla80!  How far off am I guessing it might be from Antioch?

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, JeandAcre said:

Many thanks. @Sulla80!  How far off am I guessing it might be from Antioch?

Not far: Syria, Seleucis and Pieria, Antioch, Vespasian, AD 69-79, AE Semis, should be about 20-21mm and 7-8 grams?  There is a heavier option ~16g AE28 As but I think that is head right and in context of the other coins, I am guessing yours is lighter.  Click the link to RPC (Roman Provincial Coins) for more on this coin

Obv: Laureate head left

Rev: Large S C within laurel wreath

Ref: McAlee 363b; RPC II 2011

unless you are thinking of the Abgar X:

Mesopotamia, Edessa, Gordian III, with Abgar X Phraates, A.D. 238-244, AE diassarion

Obv: bust of Gordian III right laureate weatring paludamentum and cuirass ; star to right; AΥTOK K M ANT ΓOPΔIANOC CEB 

Rev: Crowned and draped bust of Abgar X right; star to left; ABΓAPOC BACIΛEΥC

 

Edited by Sulla80
correct a misattribution
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Many thanks. @Sulla80, including the link!  I was thinking of the Vespasian; I'd randomly run across that 'SC' motif in connection with Antiocene provincials of the period, in other listings and, ahem, other forums.  But my sole basis was anecdotal.

...Given which, I'm confident that your rendering of the legends on the Abgar is much more comprehensive than what I was looking at from Wildwinds.  ...Funny, though, in reference both to the latter (citing BMC) and you, Gordian looks more laureate to me than radiate.

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39 minutes ago, JeandAcre said:

...Funny, though, in reference both to the latter (citing BMC) and you, Gordian looks more laureate to me than radiate.

Good catch - I got that wrong -  Here's the BMC link - I think your coin is probably BMC (Mesopotamia, Edessa) 144 but there might be other options

image.png.8a72320335720f51bf4143a6611e7292.png

Compare the illustration in this plate:

image.png.ed53eb089d9eead09d3b61e9ce20691f.pngPlate XVI.9

Catalogue of the Greek coins of Arabia, Mesopotamia and Persia by George Francis Hill

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Posted (edited)
25 minutes ago, Sulla80 said:

Good catch - I got that wrong -  Here's the BMC link - I think your coin is probably BMC (Mesopotamia, Edessa) 144 but there might be other options

image.png.8a72320335720f51bf4143a6611e7292.png

Compare the illustration in this plate:

image.png.ed53eb089d9eead09d3b61e9ce20691f.pngPlate XVI.9

Catalogue of the Greek coins of Arabia, Mesopotamia and Persia by George Francis Hill

Aaah, Thanks for clearing that up!  The weirdness is that the Wildwinds entry I found had exactly the same BMC reference, but the description and pic were both unambiguously radiate.  ...And Huge thanks for all the links!  I have zero native aptitude for finding stuff as cool as this.

(Edit:) Dang, and the BMC link was as easy as the Wayback Machine!  I need to hang out there more.  The contrast with GoogleBooks is reminiscent of the one --at least for copyrighted music-- between YouTube and Spotify.

Edited by JeandAcre
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1 hour ago, JeandAcre said:

The contrast with GoogleBooks is reminiscent of ....

We might as well complete the story : here's your Samosata, Commagene Antoninus Pius: https://rpc.ashmus.ox.ac.uk/coins/4/5749

FYI - The "Library" https://www.sullacoins.com/library on my Notes page has links to my favorite online sources. -  not at all comprehensive but usefui.

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4 hours ago, Sulla80 said:

We might as well complete the story : here's your Samosata, Commagene Antoninus Pius: https://rpc.ashmus.ox.ac.uk/coins/4/5749

FYI - The "Library" https://www.sullacoins.com/library on my Notes page has links to my favorite online sources. -  not at all comprehensive but usefui.

(Please insert expletive of choice:) you're just That Good.  Blessings upon your house.

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  • 5 weeks later...

Kings of Bosporus. Kotys III, AD 227-234, with Severus Alexander. EL Stater (20mm, 7.49g, 1h). Dated Bosporan Era 525 (AD 228/229). Obv: BACIΛЄѠC KOTYOC; Diademed and draped bust of Kotys right. Rev: Laureate head of Severus Alexander right; ЄKΦ (date) below, pellet before. Ref: MacDonald 574/1; Anokhin 655; Frolova pl. LV, 11. Nice Very Fine, slight scratches in reverse field. Ex Atlantis.

image.jpeg.93dedae63efa714fdf0a56e81d3c0bda.jpeg

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On 5/26/2022 at 8:31 PM, Sulla80 said:

I am not expecting that most collectors look at this coin and say "Wow, That's a beautiful coin", I myself didn't have that reaction. I do see an intriguing coin and this is about a nice you can find in a late 3rd century, billion (silver alloy, BI) stater from the Bosporus. The mystery of this coin is what attracted me.

I completely overlooked that thread! Cool - as a Bosporus fan, I'll read through it at my leisure. Thanks Sulla... (that I, as a Caesarian, will thank a Sullan - gods!)...

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