Jump to content

A pleasing surface orichalcum of Marcus Aurelius from Ulpia Pautalia


Recommended Posts

Ulpia Pautalia is one of those cities that minted very nice style (with almost Rome-like effigies) during the mid 2nd century. There is discussion about a 'federation' of cities having coinage minted for them by one mint (or by moving mint masters and coin cutters) servicing the likes of Pautalia, Philippopolis, maybe even Augusta Traiana etc. but that is a theory hard to either prove or disprove.

Ulpia Pautalia had a rather distinct coinage, with a riveran theme -- most important in our case here -- and there seemed to be a lively local cult there favoring the river-god Strymon. This coin is well worn and corroded, but it still keeps some of its elegant design in place, especially the very Imperial portrait of Marcus Aurelius as Caesar in life-like features. More on that below.


Marcus Aurelius as Caesar
AE24mm 8.36g orichalcum (brass) triassaria, minted at Pautalia, ca. 147.
Μ ΑVΡΗΛΙΟϹ ΟVΗΡΟϹ ΚΑΙϹ; bare head of Marcus Aurelius (short beard), r.
ΠΑVΤΑΛΙΑC - river-god (Strymon, bearded) reclining, l., holding ears of corn and long reed; resting on rock; ΟVΛΠΙΑC in exergue.
RPC IV.1 3933 (temporary); not in Ruzicka Pautalia


I am following for the last 2-3 weeks a collection of mostly 3rd century coinage, both Imperial and local 'provincial' offered online, with some really interesting material. The Neapolis in Samaria coin of Trebonianus Gallus I have shown in my late 'provincial' thread is also one of those coins.

This one has a particularly rare bust variation for this series at Ulpia Pautalia (bare head in truncation). RPC notes another specimen but it is not that clear if it's the same variation, as the coin they record seems to have been tooled, and it might have been the more common bare-headed bust (including part of the upper torso). This specimen is heavily circulated but completely attributable and might date to the early period of Aurelius's Imperium, alongside Antoninus Pius. In Imperial coinage, this effigy with short beard and bare head is present to around 147. Considering the delay in representations possible (although not mandatory), Pautalia might have struck this orichalcum coinage until ca. 150.

What I think happened in RPC is that the variation was expected, as the local coinage follows the Imperial effigies of Rome, but they just did not have a specimen to show for it, so they settled with the tooled one presented. Well, here is the real deal.

  • Like 13
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.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

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.

  • Create New...