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A Stylish Sarapis


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I was attracted to this Alexandrian diobol because of the fine style of both the obverse and reverse. The reverse bust is especially pleasing.

 

 

RPC2437.jpg.f371a486efe52500c78637b0877f8bf8.jpg

Vespasian

Æ Diobol, 10.57g
Alexandria mint, 72-73 AD
Obv: ΑΥΤΟΚ ΚΑΙΣ ΣΕΒΑ ΟΥΕΣΠΑΣΙΑΝΟΥ; Head of Vespasian, laureate, r.
Rev: Date LE; Bust of Sarapis, r.
RPC 2437 (17 spec.). Emmett 218.5. Dattari-Savio 400.
Acquired from London Ancient Coins, July 2022.

The cult of Sarapis gained importance during the Flavian dynasty because of Vespasian's vital connection to Egypt during the Civil War. Alexandria was the first city to declare for him in July 69 and in November he arrived there to await the outcome of the war and to secure the grain supply to Rome. According to both Tacitus and Suetonius during Vespasian's sojourn in Alexandria he paid a visit to the temple of Sarapis alone to consult the god about the chances of success in his bid for the empire. After receiving a positive sign he was able to administer healing miracles to the local Alexandrians. Of course, all this was later Flavian propaganda intended to bolster Vespasian's claim to the purple. It then should come as no surprise that Sarapis figured prominently on the local coinage under Vespasian, being commonly struck on the bronze diobol. This regnal year 5 specimen is fairly common, but uncommon in such fine style and condition.

Thank you for looking!

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A lovely coin David with a well executed artistic bust of Sarapis. I have two similar but quite different (neither is as artistically pleasing) busts of Sarapis from Alexandria but are over 200 years apart.

Nero:-

GI_020a_img.jpg

Probus:-

GI_132ax_img.jpg

Regards,

Martin

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Isis, post Sulla  Wearing a hat of some description  and holding a sistrum?  That some sort of a hat is a KALATHOS. Only existed in the Greco-Roman tradition. It represents a basket of fruit. It is typical of the fusion of Greco=Roman elements  onto an older Isis tradition.

ISIS_Post_Sulla-removebg-preview.png

Edited by NewStyleKing
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Another from Alexandria:

Julia_Paula_1.jpg.eabb4e3d58f11d22fcce8b827af4d658.jpg

Julia Paula
Tetradrachm, Egypt, Alexandria
Obv.: IOYΛIA ΠAYΛA CEB, bust right
Rev.: L - Δ, bust of Serapis right, year 4 (=220/221)
Billon, 12.85g, 23.3mm
Ref.: Kampmann/Ganschow 57.15, Geissen 2366

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Sarapis bust from Tomis.

TomisCommodus.jpg.516020846db0738a4df1f6b06f79c8f4.jpg

Moesia Inferior, Tomis. Commodus AE27. Bust of Sarapis

Obv: ΑΥΤO Κ Λ ΑΙΛ ΑΥΡ ΚΟΜΟΔΟΣ. laureate head of Commodus, r.
Rev: ΜΗΤΡΟΠ ΠΟΝΤΟΥ ΤΟΜΕΩΣ Δ . head of Sarapis wearing kalathos, r.
27 mm.,10.0 g.
die-axis: 7
AMNG 2694 var.

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Here's a tetradrachm from Alexandria with a nice depiction of Serapis:

mNZLuWL.jpeg

Egypt, Alexandria, Gallienus potin tetradrachm

253-268 AD
Struck in RY 14 = 266/7 AD
Obverse: AΥT K Π ΛIK ΓAΛΛIHNOC CЄB; Laureate and cuirassed bust of Gallienus to right.
Reverse: L / I - Δ Draped bust of Serapis to right, wearing kalathos; to right, palm frond.
References: Dattari (Savio) 5261 ; Emmett 3829.14; K&G 90.95.
23mm; 10.72g; 11h

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Posted (edited)

I am somewhat embarrassed to admit that I don't have a single Roman Alexandrian coin with a bust of Serapis (or Sarapis -- I guess both are correct) on the reverse. I've often made note of them, but there always seems to be something else that's a higher priority. I'll have to remedy that situation soon! (There are some nice ones for sale at VCoins right now, but unfortunately the substantial majority are from A. Numismatics in Canada and look like the patina has been fiddled with in one way or another.)

These are my only two coins depicting Serapis in any manner:

Hadrian, Billon Tetradrachm, Year 18 (133/134 AD), Alexandria, Egypt Mint. Obv. Laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, seen from rear, ΑΥΤ ΚΑΙϹ ΤΡΑΙΑΝ - ΑΔΡΙΑΝΟϹ ϹƐΒ / Rev. Serapis [associated with Hades] seated left on high-backed throne,  crowned with modius, wearing himation, holding scepter in left hand, and extending right hand downwards toward Cerberus/Kerberos seated to left at his feet; L IH [= Year 18] in left field.  RPC [Roman Provincial Coinage] Vol. III 5871 (2015); RPC III Online at https://rpc.ashmus.ox.ac.uk/coins/3/5871;  BMC 16 Alexandria 620-621 at p. 74 & PL. XIII [Poole, Reginald Stuart, A Catalog of the Greek Coins in the British Museum, Vol. 16, Alexandria (London, 1892)]; Köln 1095 [Geissen, A., Katalog alexandrinischer Kaisermünzen, Köln, Band II (Hadrian-Antoninus Pius) (Cologne, 1978, corrected reprint 1987)]; Dattari (Savio) 1480 [Savio, A. ed., Catalogo completo della collezione Dattari Numi Augg. Alexandrini (Trieste, 2007)]; Emmett 892.18 [Emmett, Keith, Alexandrian Coins (Lodi, WI, 2001)]; Milne 1394 at p. 34 [Milne, J.G., Catalogue of Alexandrian Coins (Oxford 1933, reprint with supplement by Colin M. Kraay, 1971)]; K&G 32.571 [Kampmann, Ursula & Ganschow, Thomas, Die Münzen der römischen Münzstätte Alexandria (2008)]. 25 mm., 12.42 g., 12 h.

image.jpeg.aa5864de4211d92211399bdc15944299.jpeg

Postumus, silvered billon Antoninianus, Trier [Mairat] or Cologne Mint, 265-268 AD. [Mairat pp. 61, 64: 266-267 AD.] Obv. Radiate & draped bust right, IMP C POSTVMVS P F AVG / Rev. Serapis, crowned and draped, standing left, raising right hand and holding transverse sceptre in left hand; in background, prow of galley right, SERAPI COMITI AVG. RIC V-1 329, RSC IV 358, Sear RCV III 10992 (ill. p. 364), Mairat 362 (pp. 532-533) & Pls 143-144 [Jerome Mairat, The Coinage of the Gallic Empire (Trinity, Oxford, 2014), available at https://ora.ox.ac.uk/objects/uuid:58eb4e43-a6d5-4e93-adeb-f374b9749a7f/download_file?file_format=pdf&safe_filename=Volume_1.pdf&type_of_work=Thesis ]. 21 mm., 3.80 g. 

image.jpeg.b61e9f74e0cfb9c3a9948e9b2c384c5c.jpeg

Edited by DonnaML
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Nice ones!   Here's one of Titus and Serapis:

 

AYTOK TITOY KAIΣO YEΣΠAΣIANOY ΣEB
laureate head of Titus right

ΣAPAΠIΣ
bust of Serapis right, wearing taenia, modius on head ornamented with branches of laurel, date LB (year 2) right

Alexandria mint, 29 Aug 79 - 28 Aug 80 A.D
12.254g, 25.4mm

Milne 456 - 457; Geissen 319; Dattari 426; cf. BMC Alexandria p. 34, 281 (year 3); Emmett 235

Ex-Forum

2011 Forum Best of Type winner

This is the Wildwinds example

Ptolemy Soter, wanting to integrate Egyptian religion with that of their Hellenic rulers,  promoted worship of Serapis as a deity that would win the reverence of both groups alike. This was despite the curses of the Egyptian priests against the gods of previous foreign rulers (i.e Set who was lauded by the Hyksos). Alexander the Great had attempted to use Amun for this purpose, but Amum was more prominent in Upper Egypt, and not as popular in Lower Egypt, where the Greeks had stronger influence. The Greeks had little respect for animal-headed figures, and so an anthropomorphic statue was chosen as the idol, and proclaimed as the equivalent of the highly popular Apis. It was named Aser-hapi (i.e. Osiris-Apis), which became Serapis, and was said to be Osiris in full, rather than just his Ka (life force). Ptolemy's efforts were successful - in time Serapis was held by the Egyptians in the highest reverence above all other deities, and he was adored in Athens and other Greek cities.

Titustet.jpg

Edited by Jay GT4
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Here are three issues depicting the god Serapis:

 

Nero from Alexandria:

Type: Billon Tetradrachm, 25mm 12.73 grams

Obverse: NERW KLAY KAIS SEB GER, Radiate crowned head facing right.

Reverse: AVTO-KRA, Draped bust of Egyptian god Serapis facing right, wearing Kalathos (basket) on head, date LI (year 10)

Reference: Milne 222, Koln 160, RPC 5274, BMCGr 156: Sear 2001.

[IMG]

 

Obverse: IMP C POSTVMVS PF AVG
Radiate, draped, cuirassed but right

Reverse: SERAPI COMITI AVG
Serapis standing left, raising hand and holding sceptre

Year: 267 C.E.

Reference: RSC 360a, Sear 10991

Mint: Trier

[IMG]

[IMG]

 

Maximinus II Daia from Alexandria:

 

Genius holding head of Serapis. Alexandria mint.

maximinus3.jpg

maximinus4.jpg

 

 

 

 

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My only Serapis..☹️ 

normal_postumus2.jpg.d9b8ee27979d704b3e82a10b0756ccc3.jpg

Postumus, Antoninianus, 260-269, Trier, , Billon 21MM
Obverse- Radiate, draped and cuirassed bust right IMP C POSTVMVS P F AVG
Reverse- Serapis standing left, raising hand & holding sceptre; prow at his feet to left SERAPI COMITI AVG
RIC-329 Trier mint (AD 267)

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Wow, this cross-post turned out to be a great gauge of the relative activity here compared to somewhere else! (Two guesses about which was more activity. Hint: It wasn't there!)

I'll cross-comment this one first. With apologies for photo credit, I should say the coin half (left) is from Zumbly's photo, edited.

image.png.58d48de0fd0f7a04a1dead2826bdde9d.png

Egypt, Alexandria. Antoninus Pius Billon Tetradrachm (23mm, 12.6g, 12h). Regnal Year 18 = 154/5 CE.
Obv: ΑΝΤⲰΝΙΝΟϹ ϹƐΒ ƐVϹƐΒ. Laureate head of Antoninus right with drapery.
Rev: L IH. Draped bust of Sarapis right, wearing kalathos & taenia.
Ref: RPC IV.4 [Temp.] 13833, this coin cited as "Reference"; Dattari-Savio (2007) Suppl., Pl. 14, No. 17 (this coin illustrated). [Both Zumbly and I had this one (erroneously, I now think) as RPC 13832; now that I see it's cited in the refs., I may send photos to RPC).]
Prov: Ex Giovanni Dattari (1858-1923) Collection; Robert L Grover Collection (formed mid-1930s-1980s); Art Institute of Chicago Collection, 1981-2017 (ref./acc. number: 1981.460); Gemini XIII (cataloged by Curtis Clay, HJB Ltd.; Chicago, 6 Apr 2017), prob. Lot 460 (part, not ill.; poss. 462); acq. from Zumbly - Minotaur, 2021.

 

AND... Ooh, exciting an opportunity to post this funny little ex-Clain-Stefanelli coin I've never posted anywhere before!

Sicily, Katane AE Hemichalkon? (15mm, 1.80g), 3rd cent BCE.
Obv: Jugate busts of Sarapis and Isis.
Rev: Grain ears.
Ref: Calciati type 23.

image.jpeg.4479121dadf015c31295421d44370c5e.jpeg

Provenance (extended cut!): This one is ex-Elvira Clain-Stefanelli (1914-2001) Collection, from which I've bought an inordinate number of coins, mostly from Naville, partner company of NAC. NAC was first to sell under the name "E.E. Clain-Stefanelli Collection," partnering with Stack's, who had previously been selling it under the name "The Demarete Collection" (since at least 2012). But really it's a family collection; Elvira wasn't the first or last of them.

Elvira and Vladimir Clain-Stefanelli (1914-1982) were important curators at the Smithsonian (Washington, DC), and basically re-built the U.S. National Numismatic Collection from the ground up. They also worked at Stack's / Coin Galleries and Hesperia after immigrating to the US (following WWII), but before starting at the Smithsonian, where they worked for the rest of their careers.

Vladimir Clain-Stefanelli collected throughout his life, until the end, having begun no later than the 1930s. Despite being imprisoned at Buchenwald Concentration Camp for 1.5 years, the kept at least some of their pre-war collection and library (I have a book signed/stamped by Vladimir both before AND after the war).

Elvira was pregnant in Buchenwald, so even their son Alexander (1943-2014) was there, in a sense. Alexander inherited the books and coin collection, and I think may have been something of a numismatist himself, though not professionally or as dedicated to it as his parents. (Elvira inscribed a copy of her 1985 bibliography to Andrew's wife, "Eleanor, who had the 'luck' to marry into a family of numismatists, and possibly to a new generation of numismatists...." I know they had two daughters, but not whether they had any numismatic interest.)

A couple years before his death, c. 2012 and 2013, Andrew seems to have begun donating (mainly to ANS) and selling the library (Kolbe & Fanning) and coin collection (to Stack's, where his parents had both first worked in America).

Edited by Curtis JJ
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46 minutes ago, Spaniard said:

My only Serapis..☹️ 

normal_postumus2.jpg.d9b8ee27979d704b3e82a10b0756ccc3.jpg

Postumus, Antoninianus, 260-269, Trier, , Billon 21MM
Obverse- Radiate, draped and cuirassed bust right IMP C POSTVMVS P F AVG
Reverse- Serapis standing left, raising hand & holding sceptre; prow at his feet to left SERAPI COMITI AVG
RIC-329 Trier mint (AD 267)

This appears to be the same type as mine, and has the same RIC number.

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24 minutes ago, DonnaML said:

This appears to be the same type as mine, and has the same RIC number.

Yes but mine is nowhere near as nice!

The prow on mine looks to be just a tick, I'm going to double check my id.

Also what do you think to @Ancient Coin Hunter example look to have a prow?...Different RIC ref, due to legend break?

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Posted (edited)
12 minutes ago, Spaniard said:

Yes but mine is nowhere near as nice!

The prow on mine looks to be just a tick, I'm going to double check my id.

Also what do you think to @Ancient Coin Hunter example look to have a prow?...Different RIC ref, due to legend break?

Perhaps the apparently missing prow on yours is simply a product of die wear or a weak strike? I do kind of see a prow on @Ancient Coin Hunter's example, which seems the same as mine except that there's a legend break on the reverse after CO rather than C like mine and yours. I don't have a copy of RIC V-1, but does RIC usually assign different numbers merely because a different legend break?

Edited by DonnaML
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Posted (edited)

PS to @Spaniard: If you look at the Mairat catalog at the link in my description of my coin, you'll see that there are at least two different varieties from Trier, Nos. 362 & 363, one with a prow depicted and one without. Both are apparently included under RIC V-1 329:

951067539_Postumus-SerapisMairat362.jpg.2e4a9b10919bbf44b167ffb433b83267.jpg

142180403_Postumus-SerapisMairat363.jpg.58004c26b3300ba808c86ef955d0fcfa.jpg

Although I should note that if my coin and @Spaniard's are, in fact, examples of these two types, I disagree with Mairat's descriptions of how Serapis is standing on the obverse of both types. Looking at both, I think he's standing facing, head left on both -- rather than standing facing or standing left on either coin.

 

Edited by DonnaML
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1 hour ago, Spaniard said:

Yes but mine is nowhere near as nice!

The prow on mine looks to be just a tick, I'm going to double check my id.

Also what do you think to @Ancient Coin Hunter example look to have a prow?...Different RIC ref, due to legend break?

I do see a prow on my example but it is a bit indistinct. Not sure whether it is a different RIC number.

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The only bust of Serapis I have is a pretty tiny one being held by Alexandria on this Diocletian reverse... 

image.png.fbebd3de27620dde5e42de3e0ad5d038.png

Diocletian, Ruled 284-305 AD
AE Tetradrachm, Egypt, Alexandria
Struck 285/286 AD
Obverse: A K Γ OYAΛ ΔIOKΛHTIANOC CЄB, Laureate and cuirassed bust of Diocletian to right.
Reverse: Alexandria, mural crown, standing left, holding bust of Serapis and sceptre, date L-B across field (year 2=285/286 AD).
References: Emmett 4025, Dattari 5622, Köln 3210
Size:          mm,         g
Ex: Naville Numismatics, Auction 49, Lot #203 (5-12-2019)

 

On 8/5/2022 at 12:28 PM, Jeremy said:

Here's a tetradrachm from Alexandria with a nice depiction of Serapis:

mNZLuWL.jpeg

Egypt, Alexandria, Gallienus potin tetradrachm

253-268 AD
Struck in RY 14 = 266/7 AD
Obverse: AΥT K Π ΛIK ΓAΛΛIHNOC CЄB; Laureate and cuirassed bust of Gallienus to right.
Reverse: L / I - Δ Draped bust of Serapis to right, wearing kalathos; to right, palm frond.
References: Dattari (Savio) 5261 ; Emmett 3829.14; K&G 90.95.
23mm; 10.72g; 11h

I REALLY LOVE 😍 your Gallienus tet!! He's one of my faves to collect tets of! 

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Very interesting and nice coin @David Atherton, thanks for sharing it.

Apart from Postumus' usual suspect (without prow on the reverse of my example)

b3b640b322d04963ba4389d90843e49d.jpg

 

I do have a Serapis on an alexandrian issue, although not a common denomination as it's an octadrachm, and not Serapis' bust but the full dude. Cherry on the cake, it's Emmet's plate coin for the type

6b94d298a15d4118a862842221e75846.jpg

Domitius Domitianus, usurpateur en Egypte (296 - 297) - Octodrachme de l'atelier d'Alexandrie - AD 296-297

ΔOMITI-ANOC CEB, Buste radié de Domitius à droite

Serapis allant à droite, branche de palmier dans le champ à gauche, LB dans le champ à droite (2° année de règne)

12.79 gr

Ref : Emmett #4241/2 (cet exemplaire) (R1), Kampmann # 126.2, RCV # 12982 (2000),

Domitius Domitianus, stationed in Egypt, rebelled against Diocletianus in july 296 AD and was proclaimed emperor. He was defeated during spring 297 AD. Diocletian decided to close the alexandrian mint, so the coins of Domitianus are the last provincial coins from Alexandria. Also, Domitianus was the only ruler to strike octadrachms (in parallel with didrachms, tetradrachms and hexadrachms)

For more information, see : http://www.forumancientcoins.com/numiswiki/view.asp?key=Domitius Domitianus

 

Q

Edited by Qcumbor
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Here's a couple of my Egyptian serapii - Gordian III (and a very rare date, according to Doug):

2047786176_Egypt-GordianIIItetSerapislotDec2021(0aaa).jpg.32f14cf6d70a903f0bd7bb4d244074f4.jpg

Egypt Potin Tetradrachm Gordian III Year 4 (240/241 A.D.) Alexandria Mint Α Κ Μ ΑΝ ΓΟΡΔΙΑΝΟϹ  ƐΥϹ(Ɛ), laureate draped and cuirassed bust right / Draped bust of Serapis wearing kalanthos right, L Δ across fields.  See reverse for attribution. (11.32 grams / 21 x 20 mm) eBay Dec. 2021 Attribution Notes:  RPC VII.2 (unassigned; ID 2919) RPC notes secondary reference: D 4770; Emmett 3422 (Year 4 is R5) per @dougsmit on Coin Talk. Three examples in RPC Online.  None in Wildwinds or acsearch (Jan. '22).  Note:  this specimen lacks the final Ɛ in obverse legend as found on RPC examples.

 This one has a few problems 😉 - Julia Mamaea.  Bronze disease note: I haven't touched this since 2018; what seems odd is that there appears to have been no spreading of the disease since I bought it in 2018.  In the past month I've been taking an aggressive approach to the BD-infested coins in my collection.  This one is now bathing in distilled water; quite a bit of powdery green BD came off with the first round of scraping.  I have high hopes.  The dark green stuff on Julia's face seems to be hard and inert, so it will probably remain in place, but I'll poke at it a little.  

46477611_Egypt-JuliaMamaeaTetSerapisNov2018(0).jpg.f9cb56450af456dc055000427d9ab274.jpg

Egypt  Potin Tetradrachm Julia Mamaea Year 11 (231/232 A.D.) Alexandria Mint [ΙΟ]ΥΛ ΜΑΜΑΙΑ СΕΒ ΜΗΤƐ СƐΒ Κ СΤΡΑ draped bust right with stephane / Sarapis bust right draped and wearing kalathos; date LIA left; palm branch right. RPC 10456; Dattari 4511. (11.95 grams / 22 mm) eBay Nov. 2018 

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