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New Hadrian travel Sestertius - what is AEGYPTOS leaning on?

Julius Germanicus

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I decided to start a sub-collection of Hadrian´s travel Sestertii, and this is my first acquisition (not perfect, but OK for me).

For whatever reason there are many different varieties to be encountered on the bronzes of this series.

Apart from the obverse, which may show Hadrian facing right or left, with or without laurel wreath and with or without paludamentum, there are rare varieties showing the Ibis without column or not at all, and sometimes a snake can be seen winding around the basket, or even fooling around next to it.

Another enigma is the vessel Aegyptos is leaning on. While it is mostly identified as a basket containing fruit, Banti (No 80) and Cayon (No 82, 83, 84, 85, 87) alternatively list a basket of corn ears and Banti alternatively a rock (No 81, 82) or a pile of stones (No 76).


Here are two coins struck from the same reverse die as my new acquisition:



What does the device Aegyptos is resting her left arm on look like to you?

A fruit (or corn?) basket or a rock or pile of stones? Or something totally different?


Please share your thoughts / coins!



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10 hours ago, DonnaML said:

On my denarius posted in the other thread, it's clearly a basket, with what look like grain ears hanging out of it. I think it's also a basket on your sestertius.

Yes, looking closely it appers to resemble a trash can with a pineapple on top, about to be crushed by Hadrians elbow, so it would be the regular "fruit basket" variety (despite the absence of pineapples in the old world in classical times).

At first I thought it would be a pile of stones on my coin (which would not be uncomon for this bust variety according to Banti), but on the second specimen I pictured from the same reverse die it looks like a baby duck and on the third a rabbit sitting on top of a second column.

Your Denarius would be the "corn basket" variety which seems to be very rare on Sestertii. There is so much more detail preserved on the Denarii (and Aurei), showing different shapes and textures of the vessels, sometimes even resembling an Amphora.

I wonder why sometimes a snake is shown coiling around the basket and why it is not present on all the varieties, which would make sense as that animal must have been as symbolic for Egypt as the Ibis (the fate of Cleopatra must have been popular culture in Hadrians times). You would always get two animals on the Nilus coins as well!

Edited by Julius Germanicus
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This fourée circulated for so long it got pretty worn down. It's difficult to tell it's a basket anymore.

Hadrian, AD 117-138.
Roman fourée denarius, 2.98 g, 17.7 mm, 7 h.
Rome mint copy, ca. AD 138.
Obv: HADRIANVS AVG COS III P P, laureate head, right.
Rev: AEGYPTOS, Egypt reclining left, holding sistrum and leaning on basket, around which a snake coils. Ibis on left, facing right.
Refs: RIC 296, BMCRE 801-804, RCV 3456, Strack 294.
Notes: Underweight. The metal surface has bubbled away from the core and cracked in front of the portrait on the obverse and above the sistrum and in the exergue on the reverse, revealing it to be a fourée.

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