Jump to content

What does the placement of the star mean on the SAECVLI FELICITAS issues of Julia Maesa?


Recommended Posts

The coins of this reverse type feature a star in either the left or right field. What does this indicate? Perhaps different emissions or different officinas within the mint? Does anyone know?

As always, feel free to post anything you feel is relevant!

853887737_MaesaSAECVLIFELICITASstarleftfielddenarius.jpg.86aaf08801a3709f44c411a550f61a99.jpg
Julia Maesa, AD 218-225.
Roman AR denarius, 2.46 g, 19.5 mm, 6 h.
Rome, AD 220-222.
Obv: IVLIA MAESA AVG, bare-headed and draped bust, right.
Rev: SAECVLI FELICITAS, Felicitas standing left, with long caduceus, sacrificing out of patera over lighted altar, left; star in left field.
Refs: RIC 272; BMCRE 81; RSC 45b; RCV 7757; CRE 473.
1300860009_MaesaSAECVLIFELICITASstarrightfielddenarius.jpg.deb8020c385423ffc1574719c9f183f9.jpg
Julia Maesa, AD 218-225.
Roman AR denarius, 3.15 g, 19.5 mm, 7 h.
Rome, AD 220-222.
Obv: IVLIA MAESA AVG, bare-headed and draped bust, right.
Rev: SAECVLI FELICITAS, Felicitas standing left, with long caduceus, sacrificing out of patera over lighted altar, left; star in right field.
Refs: RIC 271; BMCRE 79; Cohen 45; RCV 7757; CRE 472; Thirion 419.

  • Like 13
  • Clap 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't know anything about this type/issue in particular, but for the LRBs I collect it seems positioning of issue marks was purely a matter of practicality and maybe engravers' whim - they placed them where ever there was most room around the design, or wherever was most aesthetically pleasing.

In case of those two coins, it does seem that positioning of Felicitas' head and outstretched arm on the top coin left a bit more room in front of her,  as opposed to the bottom one where her entire body is s bit shifted towards the center of the coin, leaving more room behind.

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted · Supporter
Posted (edited)

Very nice! I really like the jouls on the second one! And I'm sure the placement of the star indicates something... but what, you've got me. 

My Maesa is a bit of a Mess-a, who knew the old gal liked chewing tobacco?

Star right:

IMG_5481.jpg.de57f3e87769ae03f9289e1755193754.jpg

 

 

Edited by Ryro
  • Like 7
  • Laugh 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The star location on coins of Elagabalus seem to have more to do with errors than anything systematic.  At least that is what some discussions on CT indicate - see this: 

https://www.cointalk.com/threads/elagabalus-denarius.273462/

Note especially @maridvnvm's interesting example with two stars, one very faint, apparently in an attempt to obliterate it from the "wrong" position. 

The stars are supposed to be in front of the deity or sacrificing emperor, not behind them.  At least that's the theory.  Here is one of mine with the star in the "wrong" position - note that the star is somewhat faint - this could be because an attempt was made to remove it?  Or just a weak strike?  In any case, it is usually in front of Sol, not down by his butt!:

728363921_Elagabalus-Den.SOLwhipAug2017(0).jpg.356e4d55a224a83ddc6dbbad1c0dda3f.jpg

Elagabalus  Denarius (220 A.D.) Rome Mint IMP ANTONINVS PIVS AVG, laureate draped bust right / P M TRP III COS III P P, Sol, radiate, advancing left raising hand, & holding whip, (faint) star to right. RIC 28b; RSC 154; BMC 179. Note:  star usually to left. (2.80 grams / 18 mm) eBay Aug. 2017        

Here's the Mrs., Julia Paula, with the star in the "correct" place, in front of the deity.  I think most of the Elagabalus and family coins will have the stars in front like this:

1589430798_JuliaPaula-Den.ConcordiaJuly2020(0).jpg.feeca90b3be973e2859b62be5b713551.jpg

Again, I'm just basing this on CT posts.  Nice coins by the way @Roman Collector.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Like 14
  • Cool Think 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 7/9/2022 at 10:53 AM, Marsyas Mike said:

The star location on coins of Elagabalus seem to have more to do with errors than anything systematic.  At least that is what some discussions on CT indicate - see this: 

https://www.cointalk.com/threads/elagabalus-denarius.273462/

Note especially @maridvnvm's interesting example with two stars, one very faint, apparently in an attempt to obliterate it from the "wrong" position. 

I'm not sure if the star-in-front mandated position applies just to the Elagabalus sacrificing scene, or any emperor, or deities more generally. I tend to agree with @maridvnvm who implies it's just for the Elagab sacrificing type when he says, "The star apparently stood for his sun god, to whom the emperor was depicted sacrificing, and therefore it should have been placed before him." (See this post.)

Here's my own example of the star behind type:

image.jpeg.3c56458d031a291ee90e96e59756a51f.jpeg

The examples without a re-engraved star seem to lack a beard, and so are earlier.

As far as @Roman Collector's Maesa coin goes, both star-in-front and star-behind seem reasonably common (based on acsearch; if anything, star-behind is more common) and I don't see any evidence for re-engraving... though I didn't look very hard!  To be confident of the "error theory" I think there would have to be evidence for re-engraving on some coins.

Another piece of evidence: the only coins from Severus Alexander with a star occur in his very first issue, after which it seems to have been eliminated. (Again based on acsearch, I haven't looked through RIC.)  That does suggest there's a connection between the star and the Syrian sun god, since the worship of said god was removed from the public eye very quickly under Sev Alex.  It's just that the position of the star didn't matter unless it was a sacrificial scene.

Note that stars occur on AE too:

image.jpeg.130c28fec34e35eb20d1c62496b30d5d.jpeg

Edited by Severus Alexander
  • Like 11
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Benefactor
Posted (edited)

I have Elagabalus with a star in front of him on the reverse, and the same is true of his first wife Julia Paula and her Concordia reverse:

image.jpeg.6d401f843191630e672ba736a929be8f.jpeg

image.jpeg.4c13eeef7822ecdace18fdb524ad738d.jpeg

However, my denarii of his second wife Aquilia Severa and his mother Julia Soaemias both have the star behind their reverse figures:

image.jpeg.94d6871c062617669f14458629323ebb.jpeg

image.jpeg.df33d2fec8da8b6225cff859e7303104.jpeg

I have no idea what, if anything, these placements signify!

Edited by DonnaML
  • Like 12
Link to comment
Share on other sites

No-one really knows what the marks are, let alone whether placement mattered. Having said that, I would think the placement would have mattered.

Presumably they’re control marks. That’s why you get the same few things over and over - letters, stars, palm branches, wreaths - the same symbols you get in exergue.

If you go to the effort of engraving symbols to distinguish dies, or moneyers, or issues or whatever, their placement in right field, left field and/or exergue is an obvious way to do this without having to have hundreds of different symbols.

At the same time, they can be incorporated into the design so they don’t detract. In medieval coinage, you see mascles, leafs, acorns and saltires used in a similar way.

  • Like 6
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted · Administrator

Might as well toss mine in!

image.png.0243c9ec436f7d38e92a318028749ab3.png

ELAGABALUS (218-222). Denarius. Rome.

Obv: IMP ANTONINVS PIVS AVG. 
Laureate and draped bust right, wearing horn.
Rev: SVMMVS SACERDOS AVG. 
Elagabalus standing left, holding branch and sacrificing with patera over lighted and garlanded altar to left; star to left.

RIC 146.

Weight: 2.80 g.
Diameter: 19 mm.

The star reminds me of some of the ones in the newly released James Webb Space Telescope image! 

image.jpeg.76156413d709caa549a3482ec691d485.jpeg

Wonder if the ancient Romans had telescopes... 🤣

image.png.869799f119bf12bf6ea39a7cc13ae0b0.png

  • Like 12
Link to comment
Share on other sites

39 minutes ago, John Conduitt said:

If you go to the effort of engraving symbols to distinguish dies, or moneyers, or issues or whatever, their placement in right field, left field and/or exergue is an obvious way to do this without having to have hundreds of different symbols.

I suppose in talking about identifying specific dies and moneyers you're not talking about roman imperial issues, so I can't comment on those, but certainly during the imperial time period I'm familiar with (Constantinian era) there doesn't appear to have been any such problem of "running out of control marks" and having to resort to issue mark position to distinguish issues.

To be fair I can think of one example where issues *are* distinguished by "issue mark" position (London PLN star right, followed by PLN star left), but this is rather the exception than the rule, and clearly London could have chosen any number of other symbols or issue marks if differentiation was the main concern**. The general strategy for differentiating consecutive issues, if not simply changing issue marks, seems to have either to add a dot to the exergue (so common that I view these as "continuation issues") or to elaborate the issue mark by adding something to it.

There are certainly cases where issue mark placement varied within a single issue (typically by reverse type, but also within reverse type), so I think any discussion of norms needs to be more specific of what period/region/etc is being discussed.

** In fact the star had been the only non-letter issue mark Constantine's London mint had chosen to use up to this time, so they were hardly running out of symbols to use, and the star might not have been an arbitrary issue mark at all .. it may have been a solar symbol being used deliberately as such. In the general case it's not always obvious where field marks are purely issue differentiators somewhat arbitrarily chosen from a repertoire of favored ones, or where there is some meaning attached. For the coins being discussed above, out of my area of expertise, I'm not sure if the star is actually an issue mark or not!

 

image.png.d7aef5e426c4c013b9cd90e41aa91212.png

image.png.991fe2cb1d0053661616a1faa5be70a0.png

  • Like 12
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Very interesting thread...

I'll add this one...

1811869725_some_white(3).jpg.1e3317ccfe54c570527f626bb7a3aa21.jpg

JULIA SOAEMIAS, mother of Elagabalus. AR Denarius (18mm, 2.87 gm).
Obverse..IVLIA SOEMIAS AVG, draped bust right.
Reverse..VENVS CAELESTIS, Venus standing left, holding apple and sceptre; star in left field.
RIC IV 241; BMCRE 45; RSC 8.

  • Like 8
Link to comment
Share on other sites

7 hours ago, Heliodromus said:

In fact the star had been the only non-letter issue mark Constantine's London mint had chosen to use up to this time, so they were hardly running out of symbols to use, and the star might not have been an arbitrary issue mark at all .. it may have been a solar symbol being used deliberately as such. In the general case it's not always obvious where field marks are purely issue differentiators somewhat arbitrarily chosen from a repertoire of favored ones, or where there is some meaning attached. For the coins being discussed above, out of my area of expertise, I'm not sure if the star is actually an issue mark or not!

Yes I certainly don't think they were running out of symbols. Rather, if you used a star to indicate a moneyer, or an officina, or an anvil, you might want to keep using a star. But then you might want to distinguish something else, like the die, or the batch, or the timeframe it was struck, at the same time. Just moving the star achieves that.

I agree that the use of a star (or palm branch etc) would have had more significance beyond simply a control mark. Everything would have had religious significance - work, relationships and life in general were conducted against a religious background. But that just makes it more likely that they would limit the control marks, and use positioning instead. If you're Chinese, you want an 8 in your phone number. Luckily, phone numbers are a dozen digits long, so everyone can have an 8 - positioning allows that.

Of course, just because stars may have been used as control marks doesn't mean every star is a control mark, or that any star is a control mark.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, John Conduitt said:

But that just makes it more likely that they would limit the control marks, and use positioning instead. If you're Chinese, you want an 8 in your phone number. Luckily, phone numbers are a dozen digits long, so everyone can have an 8 - positioning allows that.

You keep repeating this, but that doesn't make it true, nor are you acknowledging the cases where it's obviously wrong !

You talk about Chinese telephone numbers, and what would make sense to you, but what about the evidence of the coins themselves ?

You seem to have an example with a moneyer changing control mark placement by issue in mind, which would be interesting to see, but obviously any such precedent doesn't necessarily carry over to other time periods or mints. Evidentially Maximinus II's Antioch mint were not playing by that rule book !

By the way, I'm not saying that every control mark was selected for meaning ... I was using that as a very specific example of why London may have chosen to stick with the same symbol for those two issues. In the general case while control marks were typically selected from a small repertoire of lucky/religious symbols, the specific choice for any given issue does not appear to have been generally relevant - more akin to pulling a random one out of a hat.

Of course none of this discussion necessarily applies to the original topic of the star on the Saecvli Felicitas type of Julia Maesa... I think you need to be quite familiar with the coinage of a particular emperor to know how best to interpret these marks. When is a star a lucky symbol pulled out of a hat, and when is it something of significance to the emperor or reverse type that was selected on purpose. Presumably a specialist would know the sequencing of these coins, and which belong to the same issue or not.

  • Like 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

54 minutes ago, Heliodromus said:

You keep repeating this, but that doesn't make it true, nor are you acknowledging the cases where it's obviously wrong !

Sorry if I caused upset, it wasn't my intention to be controversial, I'm just proposing a theory. As far as I can tell, no-one has an explanation for such symbols that has been accepted or isn't full of exceptions, so presumed there was room for speculation. Since there is no contemporary evidence for what the mints were doing, it can sometimes help to find later parallels.

I ended by saying 'just because stars may have been used as control marks doesn't mean every star is a control mark, or that any star is a control mark', which is my way of acknowledging cases where it is obviously wrong.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, John Conduitt said:

I ended by saying 'just because stars may have been used as control marks doesn't mean every star is a control mark, or that any star is a control mark', which is my way of acknowledging cases where it is obviously wrong.

OK, but I really don't see how that relates to the issue of control mark (or simply field mark) placement, which is what was being discussed.

Having a theory is great, but it needs at least some supporting evidence, and minimally needs to be refined in the face of opposing evidence! You just ignored the Maximinus II example I presented (same applies for all his mints) and reiterated your theory unchanged ! It'd not be surprising if republican moneyers' practices differed from those of the later imperial mints, but you have still not presented any example other than Chinese phone numbers! :classic_wink:

 

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Heliodromus said:

OK, but I really don't see how that relates to the issue of control mark (or simply field mark) placement, which is what was being discussed.

Having a theory is great, but it needs at least some supporting evidence, and minimally needs to be refined in the face of opposing evidence! You just ignored the Maximinus II example I presented (same applies for all his mints) and reiterated your theory unchanged ! It'd not be surprising if republican moneyers' practices differed from those of the later imperial mints, but you have still not presented any example other than Chinese phone numbers! :classic_wink:

Ok I understand you didn't appreciate my philosophical approach 😆 It worked for Plato - he theorised the whole of existence with no evidence whatsoever 🤣

I was thinking of LRBs (dangerous ground given you know a lot more about them), where reverses like GLORIA EXERCITVS have various symbol combinations in the fields and in exergue. So *if'palm branch - officina/mintmark' in exergue is deliberately different to 'officina/mintmark - palm branch' and 'officina/mintmark - no palm branch' (or stars, or crescents), then the use of a palm branch (or not) in the field might also be a control mark deliberately different to the others https://www.vcoins.com/en/stores/gb_collection/65/product/constantine_ii_caes__nummus__gloria_exercitvs__trier_ric_556__very_nice/1652853/Default.aspx

But then again, it might not, and the engraver just fancied a change.

I know you'll hate this, but the deliberate positioning of privy marks and design elements is known to have been applied to much later hammered coinage for the purposes of control e.g. Henry VI groats and Charles I farthings. They may not be Romans, but they faced the same problems - accounting for the dies and the metal, and eliminating forgeries - so it's not that much of a stretch to think the Romans *might* have had similar ideas sometimes. Not all the time, of course - the Roman Empire lasted 500 years, and the medieval period 1000 years.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, John Conduitt said:

So *if'palm branch - officina/mintmark' in exergue is deliberately different to 'officina/mintmark - palm branch' and 'officina/mintmark - no palm branch' (or stars, or crescents), then the use of a palm branch (or not) in the field might also be a control mark deliberately different to the others

Well, maybe. Certainly, normally, for a given issue the control mark will either be in field or exergue, not interchangeable between the two.

On the Gloria Exercitvs types (first two standards, then later one standard) we do see some reuse of issue marks, both with and without a change from field to exergual placement. Placement seems to have been done with aesthetics in mind, so on the two standards type we see Arles and Trier often putting control marks in field between the standards for a nice symmetric placement, and with the one standard type often on the standard itself (e.g. Arles Chi-Rho first between the standards, then later Chi-Rho ON the standard). At Trier we do see the palm first used on the two standards type in field between the standards, then later reused in exergue on the one standard type, but note that we're talking about different series - one vs two standards - so the exergual placement isn't needed as a differentiator, perhaps just a choice NOT to put it on the standard.

However, there are a couple of unusual cases where it does seem exergual and field placement are used interchangeably within the same issue.

For example, here's the star issue at Arles with star in field (a bit confusingly between two other stars, with different meaning ...)

image.png.e2672e616294ecf060e6f8112bdd86c8.png

And here, with star moved to exergue.

image.png.10dc9abd0ec95921d27a4975cd908ab3.png

On the Constantinopolis and Gloria Exercitvs types (all three types being part of same issues) we only see star in field, so there doesn't seem to be a separate star-in-exergue issue, but rather a single issue where perhaps different engravers have made different placement choices. In seems (per the other two types, and rest of series) the star was meant to go in field, but obviously it doesn't sit well between the two stars that are part of the design representing the Dioscuri !

Here's another interesting example, again from Arles. On the campgate series we have the this issue with ARL{P|S} in exergue and S-F in field (nice symmetrical placement).

image.png.8aeb926b8a1f22de62987f8c94e9c8fc.png

(not my coin)

However, the VOT XXX type was also part of this issue (my coin below - missing from RIC and Ferrando), and rather than cram the S-F in field they happily just moved it to the exergue, and shortened the ARL{P|S} to AR{P|S}, giving us SF.ARS on this specimen.

image.png.c6718bc12c2f0b552d4ebd281e71891b.png

So it seems, push come to shove, even exergue vs field isn't considered special, even if normally an issue mark would be positioned consistently in one or the other for a given issue.

 

Edited by Heliodromus
fixed typos
  • Like 8
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Silver Coin (AR Denarius) minted for JULIA MAESA, grandmother of ELAGABALUS and SEVERUS ALEXANDER, between 222 - 225 A.D. Obv. IVLIA.MAESA.AVG.: dr. bust r. Rev. SAECVLI.FELICITAS.: Felicitas stg. l., sacrificing over altar. RCS #2184. RSCIII #45. RICIV #271. DVM #12.

DFGM-243 OBV.jpg

DFGM-243 REV.jpg

DFGMA-246 OBV.jpg

DFGMA-246 REV.jpg

Its the hair style!

Edited by Jims,Coins
  • Like 7
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Curse the ancients and their couldn't give a damn  about consistency ! Keeps us Asperger types interested, argumentative  right-minded forever.  There was a guy  who wrote on them sometimes back with pics that showed erasures and replacements on the Elagabalus coinage  of the said star.  I personally  think that for the Syrian family  it is sacred  and  should be in front, but maybe the slaves die artists  couldn't  give a damn  or were making a point against Elagabalus.   Lack of consistency tends  to be the only consistent thing in ancient  numismatics.  My beloved NewStyles being no exception!

 

NSK=John

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

There is a R5  New Style with  only 4 known examples ( I've got the only one known in private hands!),,  but,  can you credit it  one with only one palm!  Now palms are often a sign of victory,  eg in racing terms  at a famous event, so for the die artists to miss one off is a major, insulting  cock up!  BLOODY ANCIENTS!

 

"Another example was later found in the “Commerce: Demetrios 1 Hoard” 2003, ( CH 10.203) and described by author Catherine C. Lorber as a Thompson #15 variant having both a new obverse and reverse that featured only a single palm."

743946141_2PALMSDEMETRIOS1HOARDBOTH.jpg.4fa661df8f822bff23bf77020eafc928.jpg

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Even this IMITATION which I published  has got 2 palms! This rare R5  official issue known from 4 extant examples  was at one time common enough to have elicited imitations!  Found in an hoard with genuine NewStyles  of which I purchased some coins  in the GOOD OL' DAYS.

TWO PALMS G&M.jpg

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just out of curiosity, and seeing as no-one else has responded to the specific question asked, I looked into these star types on OCRE and Ancient Coin Search. I'm not sure what's in RIC, but the available online photos seem to give a pretty complete picture anyway.

So, the broader picture is that this star in field appears on select reverse types struck by Elagabalus for all of himself, his wives Julia Paula and Aquilia Severa, his mother Julia Soaemias, and his grandmother Julia Maesa.

Notably there is only a single reverse type for each of the women that includes the star, as follows:

Julia Paula : Concordia (seated)

Aquilia Severa : Concordia (sacrificing)

Julia Soemias : Venus Caelestis (standing)

Julia Maesa : Saecvli Felicitas

The star seems quite specific to these exact (seated, standing, etc) reverse types. For these reverse types where the star can be found, it is present on all denominations (denarius, as, dup, sest), and generally appears with placement both in right/left field (i.e. in front of and behind central figure). For some as/dup types I was only able to find left or right field examples, but this seems due to a paucity of specimens. For denarii and sestertii I found left+right field examples for all types.

For Elagabalus himself, the star can be found on a wider variety of reverse types, falling into a few groups:

1) P M TR P III COS III P P (various reverse types: Sol, emperor sacrificing, emperor in curule chair, etc)

The same as for the women, the star placement may be left or right field, both for the denarius and other denominations (as/dup/sest).

While the COS III legend is most common, the star can also be found on the COS II and COS IIII variants, so is not limited to a specific consular year.

2) Types recording Elagabalus high priest title:

Invictus Sacerdos Avg
Svmmvs Sacerds Avg
Sacerd Dei Solis Elagab

Notably the first two of these, with star, were issued both from Rome and Antioch (making it pretty clear this is not just a Rome issue mark).

3) A select few other reverse types in a seemingly related group:

Abvndantia Avg
Libertas Avg
Victoria Avg

4) On the Conservator Avg "stone of emessa" reverse type (in gold as well as silver). The star placement here is central, above the quadriga. I assume this star has same meaning as on the rest on the types where it appears (above).

So, from all of above, it seems that:

a) The star is being used for it's meaning, not as mere issue mark. We can see it used multiple times on COS II,III and IIII-dated coins, and note the assigned reverse types it appears on for the women.

b) The placement of the star appears to have no meaning. Conceivably there could have been two issues for the women, with placement changing from left to right field; however, since we see the star on issues from at least three different years (COS II, III, IIII), it seems more likely that position was NOT being used as an issue differentiator. On the "stone of emisa" quadriga type the position of the star does not vary (since the reverse design does not allow it), again suggesting that position is not being used as an issue differentiator.

c) The meaning of the star is presumably as a solar symbol representing Helios - helio-elagabalus.

 

Edited by Heliodromus
  • Like 6
  • Clap 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

6 hours ago, Heliodromus said:

Just out of curiosity, and seeing as no-one else has responded to the specific question asked, I looked into these star types on OCRE and Ancient Coin Search. I'm not sure what's in RIC, but the available online photos seem to give a pretty complete picture anyway.

So, the broader picture is that this star in field appears on select reverse types struck by Elagabalus for all of himself, his wives Julia Paula and Aquilia Severa, his mother Julia Soaemias, and his grandmother Julia Maesa.

Notably there is only a single reverse type for each of the women that includes the star, as follows:

Julia Paula : Concordia (seated)

Aquilia Severa : Concordia (sacrificing)

Julia Soemias : Venus Caelestis (standing)

Julia Maesa : Saecvli Felicitas

The star seems quite specific to these exact (seated, standing, etc) reverse types. For these reverse types where the star can be found, it is present on all denominations (denarius, as, dup, sest), and generally appears with placement both in right/left field (i.e. in front of and behind central figure). For some as/dup types I was only able to find left or right field examples, but this seems due to a paucity of specimens. For denarii and sestertii I found left+right field examples for all types.

For Elagabalus himself, the star can be found on a wider variety of reverse types, falling into a few groups:

1) P M TR P III COS III P P (various reverse types: Sol, emperor sacrificing, emperor in curule chair, etc)

The same as for the women, the star placement may be left or right field, both for the denarius and other denominations (as/dup/sest).

While the COS III legend is most common, the star can also be found on the COS II and COS IIII variants, so is not limited to a specific consular year.

2) Types recording Elagabalus high priest title:

Invictus Sacerdos Avg
Svmmvs Sacerds Avg
Sacerd Dei Solis Elagab

Notably the first two of these, with star, were issued both from Rome and Antioch (making it pretty clear this is not just a Rome issue mark).

3) A select few other reverse types in a seemingly related group:

Abvndantia Avg
Libertas Avg
Victoria Avg

4) On the Conservator Avg "stone of emessa" reverse type (in gold as well as silver). The star placement here is central, above the quadriga. I assume this star has same meaning as on the rest on the types where it appears (above).

So, from all of above, it seems that:

a) The star is being used for it's meaning, not as mere issue mark. We can see it used multiple times on COS II,III and IIII-dated coins, and note the assigned reverse types it appears on for the women.

b) The placement of the star appears to have no meaning. Conceivably there could have been two issues for the women, with placement changing from left to right field; however, since we see the star on issues from at least three different years (COS II, III, IIII), it seems more likely that position was NOT being used as an issue differentiator. On the "stone of emisa" quadriga type the position of the star does not vary (since the reverse design does not allow it), again suggesting that position is not being used as an issue differentiator.

c) The meaning of the star is presumably as a solar symbol representing Helios - helio-elagabalus.

 

Excellent!  I was hoping someone would do this work. 😄 BTW, this would be just the sort of thing to work up into a NumisThought piece, a short note type article.  Just add your methods (acsearch or whatever) and any references you used, a preamble, and perhaps fill in the arguments a bit, and it would be good to go I should imagine.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Heliodromus is correct, the star stands for Elagabalus' sun god, according to the unpublished sequence of Elagabalus' reverse types that I worked out several decades ago.

Elagabalus' first and second issues of coins, lasting from his accession in June 218 until c. fall 219, included no types referring to his sun god and no types marked with the star in field . The same applies to his contemporaneous FECVNDITAS and IVNO types for Julia Maesa and his contemporaneous IVNO REGINA type for Julia Soaemias: no sun-god reverse types and no star in reverse field.

Elagabalus' first denarius type referring to his sun god, P M TR P II COS II P P Sol standing, appeared in c. autumn 219 and lasted until the end of that year, when it was replaced by a similar type showing Sol advancing that continued throughout 220 with date TR P III COS III and then into 221 with date TR P IIII COS III. The appearance of this Sol type on c. 1 January 220 coincided with the introduction of the star in reverse field not only in that same type, but in the other three types, VICTORIA AVG, LIBERALITAS AVG III, and LIBERTAS AVG, that were struck alongside the Sol advancing type in the same issue. Ditto for the contemporaneous types of Elagabalus' female relatives: SAECVLI FELICITAS for Maesa; VENVS CAELESTIS standing for Soaemias; CONCORDIA marriage scene without star followed by CONCORDIA seated first without and then with star for Julia Paula; and finally the  CONCORDIA marriage scene and CONCORDIA standing types with star for Aquilia Severa and the CONCORDIA marriage scene type with star for Annia Faustina. It makes sense that Elagabalus' Sol standing and Sol advancing types of late 219 and early 220 must refer to his sun god, since the same type with the same star in field was also struck with the variant reverse legend CONSERVATOR AVG, characterizing the sun god as the emperor's protector. In an aureus type, also with star in field, the same legend CONSERVATOR AVG was also used with type Stone of Emesa in quadriga, clearly referring to the emperor's Emesan sun god whose cult he was bringing with him to Rome.

Leaving aside a few special types, then, there were only moderate references to Elagabalus' sun god on the imperial coinage of the first three years of his reign, namely the Sol standing and then Sol advancing type of fall 219 until mid 221, and the star placed randomly left or right in the reverse field (see Heliodromus' survey above) on all types between January 220 and mid 221. A major change, however, took place in Elagabalus' final issue between mid 221 and his assassination in March 222. The four ordinary reverse types of his preceding issue, for example ABVNDANTIA AVG and P M TR P IIII COS III P P Victory laying garland on two shields, were replaced by four types showing the emperor in Syrian priestly dress sacrificing to his sun god, with legends INVICTVS SACERDOS AVG, SACERD DEI SOLIS ELAGAB, SVMMVS SACERDOS AVG, and the dated legend with TR P IIII followed by TR P V. The "horn", obviously a cult object of some kind, was added to the emperor's portrait on the obverse, until it was removed early in 222, probably in the hope of mollifying the praetorians who were furious that he had attempted to assassinate his cousin and colleague, Severus Alexander Caesar.

(to be continued)

  • Like 9
  • Thanks 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...