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A piece of the Sestos puzzle: a (very) early Domitian.


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One of the inspirations for my interest in coins comes from numismatic literature. Whenever I get the chance I either read online or buy periodicals and articles from throughout Europe to Israel and the US. My favorite type of articles is what I have been also trying to emulate in my entries here and in my papers for numismatic periodicals: interesting pieces of puzzle with questions and (less often) answers regarding dating and the historical implications of certain coinages.

An article that I have read the past month caught my interest not only for the subject matter but also for the periodical outlet that published it: 'Two numismatic puzzles from 1st century Sestus' by Mark Fox in 'Archaeology of the first millennium A.D. IV. Nomads and the autochtonous in the first millennium A.D.' (Istros, 2015), pp. 33-47. A numismatist from the US featured in an Eastern European (Romanian) publication. Surely a result of one of the great feats of the internet age -- fast interconnectivity and access to information for all interested parties. As I have mentioned a few times, I consider the local researchers to be the best when it comes to latest info, theories and finds regarding particular types. At the same time, internet, ebay and (in the last few years) biddr have given us all a chance to be as close as the 'locals' in numismatic research, as Mark Fox proves beyond any doubt in his research.

So, a few days after reading his fun article, browsing the inventory of one of my favorite auction houses, lo and behold one of the coins Mr. Fox focuses in his paper:


AE18 4.48g copper unit minted c. 70-81?
[Δ]OMI[TIA]N[O]Σ KAIΣAP; laureate head r.
ΣHΣ - TIwN; lyre/cithara
RPC I 1739 / RPC II 358
double die-match with RPC II 358A


It's a very interesting coin from an area of the Thracian Chersonesos less prolific during the Imperial age. It was assigned in RPC (RPC I) to Augustus (initially). BMC on the other hand had it assigned to Domitian. M. Fox in his aforementioned article suggests that the coin is actually minted for Domitian, and notes that it was likely minted early during his reign.

Another possibility, even more likely considering the characteristics emphasized by M. Fox -- the form of the ethnic name on the reverse and the shape of the cithara, both very similar to Sestos issues for Vespasian (RPC II 358) -- coupled with the early form of sigma (Σ) instead of the regular (C) that is even used on the coinage of Vespasian, would suggest an issue very close to 70AD, so possibly minted for Domitian as Caesar rather than as Augustus (after 81).

Without the paper to take up the problem of assigning this unremarkable coin in a context more suitable for its characteristics and as such, closer to its true attribution, I likely would've not become interested in this spec and my knowledge in 'provincial' or 'Greek Imperial' numismatics would have been poorer.

Edited by seth77
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43 minutes ago, Orange Julius said:


Mark Fox has been a contributor on the FORVM discussion board and has always been very helpful there as a resource.

Yes, I remember him from FAC circa 20years ago. I remember his posts along with Curtis Clay's, Pat Lawrence's and Jochen's were real gems. I had to really grow and learn to appreciate them. Mark Fox was also the one to announce the coinage of Taenarum/Tainaron last year.



49 minutes ago, Orange Julius said:

Interesting! Can you link the article? I’d like to give it a look. I’ll see if I have any of these coins.


I can do you one better, check your PM.

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Mark has been helpful in identifying many of my coins.  Could you also send me this article please?


Here's a later Sestos from Hadrian.


Thrace, Sestos. Hadrian Æ16

Obv: ΑΔΡΙΑΝΟϹ ΚΑΙϹΑΡ / laureate. cuirassed head or bust of Hadrian, r., with drapery on l. shoulder.
Rev: ϹΗϹΤΙⲰΝ / Lyre.
RPC III, 757.

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