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Baal of Orthosia


seth77

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I have been wanting one of these for some time:

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ANTONINUS PIUS (138-161)
AE23mm 9.34g copper multiple, minted at Orthosia, ca. 150-1
ΑΥΤ ΚΑΙ ΤΙ ΑΙΛ ΑΔΡ ΑΝΤWΝΕΙΝΟϹ ϹΕΒ; laureate bust of Antoninus Pius wearing cuirass and paludamentum, right, seen from back
ΒΞΥ - Baal of Orthosia wearing kalathos(?) standing in biga drawn by griffins, right, holding harpa; ΟΡΘWϹΙΕWΝ underneath.
RPC IV.3 6211

 

Scarce type, 5 noted in RPC + 3 in acsearch, possibly all struck with the same pair of dies. Orthosia was not a first rate city during Imperial age, despite being mentioned in Maccabees and by Plinius and Strabo. The finds of coins containing the ethnic (possibly of this type or the sister issue showing Astarte) and the Tabula Peutingeriana helped narrow down the location of the town to the Lebanese coast near the Eleutheros river, but not much remains of it.

The 'Baal of Orthosia' is a local god of Phoenician origin. This representation might be based on an actual cult statue dedicated to the Baal, as it appears throughout the history on Orthosian coinage at least since the time of Cleopatra VII. Influenced by both Mesopotamian and Egyptian figurative art, the 'Baal of Orthosia' and his companion Astarte bring a very distinctive idea on the local religion, while the 'Baal' seems to also act like the symbol of the town. As seen here, in the 2nd century the representation also includes a kalathos(?) or another similar head gear that might had been attached under the influence of the cult of Serapis. Unfortunately on this specimen the harpa, used here likely as an attribute of chthonic force, is not very clear.

For such a brief and singular emission, the coin design is remarkably complex and standardized, employing even the dating system of the local area as ΒΞΥ (462, hinting to a possible foundation of the town in the Hellenistic period).

Edited by seth77
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Veriy interesting writeup!

I recently won this Orthosia issue and am anxiously waiting to receive it (dealer's photo)

orthosia.jpg.88b37e3192dc60427651ba84ca1ddaff.jpg

Karia, Orthosia Ӕ 12mm. Circa 2nd century BC. Laureate head of Poseidon to right / ΟΡΘΩΣΙΕΙΩΝ around trident with volutes; below, M-E. HNO 2731 (temporary) corr. (Zeus); cf. Imhoof-Blumer KM, p. 149, 1 (ΟΡΘΩΣΙΕΩΝ); Delrieux 2008, 48, 6. 1.55g, 12mm, 11h.

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57 minutes ago, JAZ Numismatics said:

I wonder if the coin was issued to commemorate a religious festival.

I wondered that too but with just one issue and that rather short for a reign of 20+ years I wonder what kind of religious festival would only happen once every 20+ years? Perhaps the coinage marks a building phase in the town?

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Thanks, @seth77 --and @kirispupis-- for posting examples of this very coolly arcane issue.

@seth77, since you're already emphasizing the multicultural element, am I right in recalling that earlier Phoenician issues, along the lines of Tyre, c. last half-millennium BCE, are also dated, also from the local calendar?  It would be cool if, along with the other dynamics, Orthosia was perpetuating that.

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1 minute ago, JeandAcre said:

Thanks, @seth77 --and @kirispupis-- for posting examples of this very coolly arcane issue.

@seth77, since you're already emphasizing the multicultural element, am I right in recalling that earlier Phoenician issues, along the lines of Tyre, c. last half-millennium BCE, are also dated, also from the local calendar?  It would be cool if, along with the other dynamics, Orthosia was perpetuating that.

It may be a local calendar, it could also be Pompeian era (some Orthosian coinage under Cleopatra VII uses this calendar apparently), it could also be Actian era (after Cleopatra) or even regnal years of Tiberius. At different times different calendars were used.

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28 minutes ago, seth77 said:

It may be a local calendar, it could also be Pompeian era (some Orthosian coinage under Cleopatra VII uses this calendar apparently), it could also be Actian era (after Cleopatra) or even regnal years of Tiberius. At different times different calendars were used.

462 in the Seleukid year system would be 150 CE as I understand.

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2 minutes ago, kirispupis said:

462 in the Seleukid year system would be 150 CE as I understand.

Thank you for this observation. I have completely missed this calendar and yes, it is very likely that it is exactly what it was used here.

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4 hours ago, seth77 said:

I wondered that too but with just one issue and that rather short for a reign of 20+ years I wonder what kind of religious festival would only happen once every 20+ years? Perhaps the coinage marks a building phase in the town?

There are types that commemorate ongoing religious festivals, but were only struck for a year or two. For instance, the Nabataeans celebrated the Festival of Dushares (their chief deity) every year on December 25, but only one commemorative type is known...

 

aktia.jpeg.875bfafea6d62d60358af36e6a9729a9.jpeg

 

PROVINCIA ARABIA.
Philip II, AD 244-247.
AE28, 14.9g, Bostra mint.
Obv.: MARC IVL PHILIPPOS CESAR; Radiate bust right.
Rev.:  COL METROPOLIS BOSTRA; AKTI/A ΔOVC/APIA in wreath.
Ref.: Spijkerman 59, SNG ANS 1247-50. 
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16 hours ago, JAZ Numismatics said:

There are types that commemorate ongoing religious festivals, but were only struck for a year or two. For instance, the Nabataeans celebrated the Festival of Dushares (their chief deity) every year on December 25, but only one commemorative type is known...

 

aktia.jpeg.875bfafea6d62d60358af36e6a9729a9.jpeg

 

PROVINCIA ARABIA.
Philip II, AD 244-247.
AE28, 14.9g, Bostra mint.
Obv.: MARC IVL PHILIPPOS CESAR; Radiate bust right.
Rev.:  COL METROPOLIS BOSTRA; AKTI/A ΔOVC/APIA in wreath.
Ref.: Spijkerman 59, SNG ANS 1247-50. 

This theme is very interesting and that coin is on my wishlist too. It shows that these ludic celebrations and religious festivals were often concurring. Your coin shows the Dousaria and Actia. I wonder if I should add a couple of local 'games and celebrations' issues from Phrygia here or start another thread.

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  • 1 month later...

Not Orthosia and a rather far away city of Syria, neighboring Mesopotamia rather than the Phoenician coast:

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Antoninus Pius, Hierapolis-Bambyce AE22 9.45g c. 150
... ΑΙΛ ΑΔΡ ΑΝΤω...; laureate head in truncation r.
ΘΕΑϹ ϹΥΡΙ / ΑϹ ΙΕΡΟΠΟ / Α inside laurel wreath
RPC IV 8545

 

... but a VERY similar style and flan type/size/weight. The letter font and the effigy are common to Laodicea ad Mare and Antioch c. 140-150, which makes it likely that the town of Orthosia relied on at least dies worked by Antiochene masters for its single-issue coinage. The coinage of Hierapolis-Bambyce at this time was also likely devised there, by possibly the same masters.

The Hierapolis-Bambyce coinage has markings for issues, similar to the S-C coinage of Antioch. This one is A and RPC only has 2 specs. But this is not a rare coinage, nor a particularly rare issue. The Thea Syrias legend is a dedication to Atargatis, the local main deity at Bambyce.

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