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Uraeus Obol

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Posted (edited)

My latest addition is another rare Alexandrian Domitianic bronze featuring a native Egyptian ethnic type of an Uraeus on the reverse.


Æ Obol, 5.00g
Alexandria mint, 90-91 AD
Obv: ΑΥΤ ΚΑΙϹΑΡ ΔΟΜΙΤ ϹΕΒ ΓΕΡΜ; Head of Domitian, laureate, r.
Rev: LΙ; Uraeus, l.
RPC 2594 (3 spec.). Emmett 329.10. Dattari-Savio 625.
Ex Naville Auction 88, 7 April 2024, lot 237.

This rare obol struck in regnal year 10 features an Uraeus ('rearing cobra') on the reverse. The Uraeus was the Egyptian symbol of royalty, divinity, and sovereignty. It depicts the old Egyptian serpent goddess Wadjet and was traditionally worn by the Pharaohs as a head ornament. Regnal year 10 was the year Domitian overhauled the Alexandrian mint, increasing both the quality of the coins and quantity of the reverse types. The reverse designs employed were a mixture of ethnic Greek and Egyptian themes. 

Only three specimens of this variety in the RPC 'core' collections.

In hand.


As always thank you for looking!

Edited by David Atherton
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Here are a few coins (and artifacts) I own depicting the uraeus -- certainly less common on Roman Alexandrian coins than the serpent Agathodaemon.

Hadrian, AE Drachm, Year 18 (133/134 AD), Alexandria, Egypt Mint. Obv. Laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, seen from behind, ΑΥΤ ΚΑΙϹ ΤΡΑΙΑΝ - ΑΔΡΙΑΝΟϹ ϹƐΒ / Rev. Serpents Agathodaemon* on left, coiled around a caduceus, and Uraeus [sacred cobra, worn by deities and pharaohs] on right, coiled around [poppies and] a sistrum, both serpents crowned with pschents/skhents [the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt], facing each other; LI - H (date) across fields. RPC Vol. III 5908 (2015) & RPC III Online 5908 at https://rpc.ashmus.ox.ac.uk/coins/3/5908; Milne 1424 (p. 34); Emmett 908.18; K&G 32.574; Dattari (Savio) 1991; BMC 16 Alexandria 844 (p. 92); Sear RCV II 3771 (date placement var.). 33 mm., 24.02 g., 12 h. Purchased from Classical Numismatic Group, LLC [CNG] Electronic Auction 531, 25 Jan 2023, Lot 701.  [Footnote omitted.]


Hadrian, AE Nome Obol, Year 11 (126/127 AD), Alexandria, Egypt Mint (for Arsinoite Nome). Obv. Laureate bust right, slight drapery on left shoulder, AΥΤ ΚΑΙ - ΤΡΑΙ ΑΔΡΙΑ ϹΕΒ / Rev. Head of Egyptian Pharaoh right, no beard [identified with Amenemhat III, under Greco-Roman name of Pramarres], wearing nemes [royal striped headdress] with uraeus [sacred cobra, worn by deities and pharaohs] at forehead; APCI (= Arsi[noites]) to left, date L IA (Year 11) to right. RPC [Roman Provincial Coinage] Vol. III 6296 (2015); RPC III Online at https://rpc.ashmus.ox.ac.uk/coins/3/6296 ; Emmett 1211.11 [Emmett, Keith, Alexandrian Coins (Lodi, WI, 2001)]; BMC 16 Alexandria, Nomes 72-73 at p. 357 [Poole, Reginald Stuart, A Catalog of the Greek Coins in the British Museum, Vol. 16, Alexandria (London, 1892)]; Sear RCV II 3831 (ill.); Köln 3381/82 [Geissen, A., Katalog alexandrinischer KaisermünzenKöln, Band II (Hadrian-Antoninus Pius) (Cologne, 1978, corrected reprint 1987)]; K&G N6.6; Milne 1229 at p. 30 (var. with beard; see p. 139 col. 2 bottom) [Milne, J.G., Catalogue of Alexandrian Coins (Oxford 1933, reprint with supplement by Colin M. Kraay, 1971)]. 19.4 mm., 5.32 g. (Purchased from Zuzim Inc., Brooklyn, NY Jan 2021; ex. Fontanille Coins, Auction 96, July 2017, Lot 7, sold as “the finest example [that dealer] ha[d] seen.”)* [Footnote omitted.]

[Dealer's photo with obv. on right & rev. on left.]


Faustina II [Junior] (wife of Marcus Aurelius & daughter of Antoninus Pius), AE Obol, Alexandria, Egypt Mint, Year 12 of Antoninus Pius (AD 148/149). Obv. Draped bust right, hair in chignon at back of head, ΦΑVϹΤΙΝΑ ϹƐΒ(Α)ϹΤΗ / Rev. Crowned uraeus serpent [sacred cobra, worn by deities and pharaohs] standing erect to right, L beneath I – B across fields (L IB = Year 12). 18 mm., 4.18 g., 12 h. RPC [Roman Provincial Coinage] Online Vol. IV.4 15420 (temp.) (see https://rpc.ashmus.ox.ac.uk/coins/4/15420); Emmett 2037.12; Dattari Savio 9144; SNG France 4, Alexandrie II 2810 [Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, France Vol. 4, Alexandrie II, Hadrien – Antonin le Pieux – Nomes (Zurich 2018)]. Purchased at Nomos Obolos Auction 22, 6 March 2022, Lot 578.


Plus a tessera:

Anonymous, unpublished, AE[?] Tessera, 2nd Century AD[?], Alexandria, Egypt Mint. Obv. Crowned Bust of Nilus left, with cornucopiae behind and, in front, bust of Harpocrates [infant Horus], seen in profile, facing left, wearing skhent crown, with left arm and forefinger held up to mouth / Rev.  On left, Serpent Uraeus [sacred cobra, worn by deities and pharaohs] with female breasts and human head of Isis (as Isis-Thermouthis), crowned with solar disk and horns, standing facing, with coils enfolding sistrum upright to left*; on right, Osiris (mummiform) wearing Atef crown above horns, standing facing with arms crossed over chest holding crook and flail.** 15.60 mm., 2.52 g. Purchased from Naville Numismatics Auction 72 (27 Mar 2022), Lot 305; ex. “private British collection.”


*See https://rhakotis.com/2017/10/24/isis-thermouthis-snake-goddess/: 

“For the Egyptians the cobra signified fecundity, protection and blessing. The cobra goddess was Renenutet. Such associations may be due to the fact that cobras were more visible during the inundation period because their normal habitations would be flooded. They would also kill the rats, who become more common during these months, and who spread disease and eat seeds which had been sown. The cobra goddess’ protective power was probably a result of the fearsome killing power of the snake. Most intriguingly, from an early period Renenutet was associated with control over fortune. During the late period, Isis became associated with Renenutet forming the composite goddess Isis-Thermouthis. . . . Often found in terracotta, Isis-Thermouthis is portrayed as a half woman, half snake. She often wears the attributes of Isis: the cow horns and moon disk (taken from Hathor), the tyet (or Isis knot), the lit torch (taken from Demeter). The most notable thing about this goddess is her body shape. Different statuettes will show her in three broad groups of body shape which are woman from the waist up and snake below, a snake with a woman’s head and a complete snake bearing only the attributes of Isis.” (Emphasis added.) 

See also https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/X__2195: “During the Roman Period, Isis and Serapis were revered as deities of prosperity. Representations of Isis, with or without Serapis, represented as cobras or with a cobra body, were popular in Roman Egypt (attested for example in Alexandria, Canopus and Oxyrhynchus) and are usually dated to the 2nd century AD.”  [Insert two photos.] 

Note also that Isis is often depicted holding a sistrum; see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sistrum. 

**The crook and flail “were originally the attributes of the deity Osiris that became insignia of pharaonic authority. The shepherd's crook stood for kingship and the flail for the fertility of the land.” (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crook_and_flail.)

Plus a scarab:

Steatite scarab with uraeus, goose, and scarab. Lower Egypt. Hyskos Period. 1650-1550 BC. (13 mm) Scarab with central bidirectional piercing for suspension. The back is simply defined, with only the head and small indication that the wing cases are present. On the face, the name r' n' k' (Nekare – Hyksos king). Below, an ureaus, goose and the scarab r', suggesting (Son of Re). Old Collector's notes present. Purchased at Classical Numismatic Group LLC (CNG) E-Auction 528, 30 Nov. 2022, Lot 741.



The old collector's note that came with the scarab, typed on both sides of an index card:


Plus a bronze Apis bull:

Egyptian bronze Apis Bull, Late Dynastic Period, ca. 662-330 BCE, intact (except for broken tip of left horn), with sun disk and uraeus between horns. 7.6 cm. (3") H, 49 mm. L.  Purchased March 20, 2021, Hixenbaugh Ancient Art, New York City.

The dealer's description:


Hixenbaugh description of bronze Apis Bull.jpg

My photos:




Apis bull new 6 (495x800).jpg
Apis bull new 29.jpeg
The bull has a collar incised around its neck, a blanket on its back, and a scarab with wings and beetle horns incised on the tail end of its back, but except for the collar, I was unable to photograph them in a way that made them visible.
This shows how the bull looks on its shelf with some other artifacts to give an idea of relative size, with the glass dome removed from the bell jar to make it easier to photograph:
Apis bull in dome 1.jpeg
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Wow @David Atherton, very nice coin, and fantastic on finding this rarity!  

I have only a few Uraeus items:


Carthage Zeugitania AR ½ Shekel 17mm 3.8g 2nd Punic War 218-202 BC Sicily mint 216-211 BC Tanit l Horse r sun as double uraeus SNG COP 359



Egypt Scarab RAMESSES II cartouche 19th Dyn 1292-1189 BCE winged uraeus cobra 4.1g 19mm Gustave Mustaki coll acquired fr Egypt in 1948

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On 5/11/2024 at 3:53 AM, lordmarcovan said:

PS- nice YouTube vid.  I should do that more often with my ancients, before I send them off to be entombed in acrylic...


I've been experimenting with the format, video versus shorts - with shorts you can be a bit more flexible with the choice of music and what not, videos are wide-screen. 

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, David Atherton said:


I've been experimenting with the format, video versus shorts - with shorts you can be a bit more flexible with the choice of music and what not, videos are wide-screen. 

If my experience with the CoinTalk site applies here as well, I gather that the forum software will not let you embed YouTube shorts in a post, due to their upright (portrait) orientation, whereas standard widescreen YouTube vids (landscape orientation) can be embedded.  Is that correct?  (Haven’t tried it here.)

Edited by lordmarcovan
*My initial typo said “CoonTalk”. Apparently that is a forum for raccoons.
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Posted (edited)
40 minutes ago, lordmarcovan said:

If my experience with the CoinTalk site applies here as well, I gather that the forum software will not let you embed YouTube shorts in a post, due to their upright (portrait) orientation, whereas standard widescreen YouTube vids (landscape orientation) can be embedded.  Is that correct?  (Haven’t tried it here.)

I believe CT will display YouTube shorts as well.


Edited by David Atherton
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