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A Countermarked Alexandrian of Heraclius (Sear 861)


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Hi All,

Here is one of the last few coins I got in 2023. It is what would be an otherwise unremarkable Alexandrian Byzantine issue of Heraclius and his two sons (obv) and I+B over the mint name AΛEZ (rev). However, what makes this one remarkable is the countermark on the reverse. It is a circular punch that shows a monogram set in a cross. I can make out the letters: ABIΛMOTPY. Some of these (the I and T and Λ) are components within other letters.

I didn't find this exact monogram combination in Fiend's two books ("Byzantyne Monograms and Personal Names" and "Byzantinische Siegelkunde"; See https://independent.academia.edu/RobertFeind ), but it is similar to the ones for Amibilios, Jamblichos, or Amibilios on page 65 of the first book.

Any thoughts on this coin or countermarked Alexandrians or any similar Alexandrian Byzantine issues you have to show are welcomed!


HERACLIUS (5 Oct 610 - 11 Jan 641 CE)
EGYPT, ALEXANDRIA Undated: ca 5 Oct 610 - 11 Jan 641 CE
Æ 12 Nummi
Size: 21 mm
Weight: 8.36 g
Axis: 04:00
Broucheion Collection B-2023-11-23.001

Obv: Heraclius (center), Herculius Constantine (right), and Heraclonus (left) all standing facing, each wears chlamys and holds globus cruciger in right hand. Heraclonas and Heraclius Constantine each wear crown with cross. Cross in fie!d above head of Heraclonas. Solid border.
Rev: Large IB, with cross over M between. In exergue: AΛEZ. Countermark. Solid border.
Refs: MIB III-206; BMC-297; Sear-861; DO-196; T-440.
Note: Reverse countermark made up of ABIΛMOTPY set in a cross.


- Broucheion


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Wow, very interesting! I thought for sure I recognized that one from recently reading about Heraclian countermarks, but seems I was mistaken.

I just bought this Heraclian one (SB 882) which is between a countermark and overstrike.


But from Sicily, not Alexandria. I like countermarks and have always noticed the lack of them from the Roman period.

I have one countermark from Alexandria (I think) -- but from the Ptolemaic period! (Incuse trident on the reverse, next to the eagle.)



So, nothing for Byzantine + Alexandria...

Looking around, I've noticed there are a lot of similar ones to yours, which I'm sure you have also noticed....

Some are close, but not quite it... Of the cross-shaped Greek monogram ones, this countermark below (from Syria, I think) is the one I see most often.



Wolfgang Schulze has several relevant articles (and Schulze & Goodwin) showing that and close variations from Syria, but none quite the same as yours (e.g., "Heraclian countermarks on Byzantine copper coins in seventh century Syria" and "The Byzantine ‘Eagle’ Countermark – Re-attributed from Egypt to Palestine"). It's also included in Bijovsky's tables of Heraclian countermarks in her 2012 book on Gold Coin and Small Change: Monetary Circulation in Fifth-Seventh Century Byzantine Palestine (specifically chapter 4.3: Heraclius (610-640)).

Maybe one other place to look: Greek monograms on Byzantine seals?


Edited by Curtis JJ
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Very interesting countermark @Broucheion.  I have one for Heraclius, same general area, but different - @Curtis JJ already linked the Schulze article:


Byzantine Empire       Æ Follis Heraclius (c. 633-636 A.D.) cm on Tib. II Con. (578-582 A.D.) Nikomedia / Palestine Mint 

Host coin:  DM T[Ib CONSTANTS PP], crowned facing bust cruciger & shield / M, ANNO left, cross above, IIII [date] right, B below; NIK[O] in exergue. SB 440, DOC 27b. (?) (11.86 grams / 31 x 27 mm) eBay Sep. 2019 (Israel)

Countermark: HRC cruciform  monogram in 9 mm circle.

Schulze HCM type 1b "Heraclian countermarks on Byzantine copper coins  in seventh-century Syria" by Wolfgang Schulze Ingrid Schulze and Wolfgang Leimenstoll discusses  finds near Caesarea Maritima, where this example was found, and concludes, "During the military conflict between the Byzantine Empire and the Muslim Arabs in  Syria in the years 633-36 Byzantine coins were countermarked by the Byzantine military with  a Heraclius monogram. Countermarking most probably was exercised predominantly in Palestine I and was carried out to revalue the few circulating copper coins in order to remedy the general supply gap and disastrous shortage of cash."

Here's the countermark with some enhancements:  



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