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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Themes & Provenance| ▸ |Types| ▸ |Astrology||View Options:  |  |  | 

Astrology on Ancient Coins
Kingdom of Pontus, Mithradates VI, c. 120 - 63 B.C.

|Pontic| |Kingdom|, |Kingdom| |of| |Pontus,| |Mithradates| |VI,| |c.| |120| |-| |63| |B.C.|, |AE| |18|
The star almost certainly depicts one of Mithridates comets. According to Justin's epitome of the Historiae Philippicae of the Augustan historian Pompeius Trogus (Justin 37.2.1-2): "The future greatness of this man [Mithridates Eupator] had been foretold by heavenly portents. For both in the year in which he was born [134/133 B.C.] and in the year in which he first began to rule [120/119 B.C.], a comet gleamed so brightly for 70 days throughout each period that the whole sky seemed to be on fire. In its extent, each of these comets filled one quarter of the sky and surpassed the sun in brilliance. They took four hours to rise and four hours to set."
GB92048. Bronze AE 18, cf. SNG BM Black Sea 980; SNG Stancomb 645; SNG Cop 230, HGC 7 314 (S), VF, green patina, weight 4.930 g, maximum diameter 17.9 mm, Amisos(?) mint, c. 120 - 100 B.C.; obverse bashlyk (Persian satrap's leather cap with flat top and ear flaps), bow on left pointed right, monogram(?) on right, facing horned bust of Pan below; reverse comet or star of eight rays, bow on right facing inward; scarce; $140.00 SALE |PRICE| $126.00


Islamic, Seljuqs Sultanate of Rum, Ghiyath al-Din Kay Khusraw II bin Kay Qubadh, 1237 - 1246 A.D.

|Islamic|, |Islamic,| |Seljuqs| |Sultanate| |of| |Rum,| |Ghiyath| |al-Din| |Kay| |Khusraw| |II| |bin| |Kay| |Qubadh,| |1237| |-| |1246| |A.D.|, |dirhem|
The source and meaning of this sun and lion design is uncertain but there is a popular (although unlikely) explanation. The sultan was madly in love with his beautiful Georgian wife and wanted to put her portrait on his coins. His advisors disapproved, however, so he put his wife's horoscope on his coins instead - the Sun in Leo. The Ilkhan descendants of the Mongols copied this design on a copper fals nearly a hundred years later. After that it became a popular device with which to ornament the copper coins of eastern Anatolia, and particularly Iran where it eventually became the countrys national symbol.
IS95340. Silver dirhem, cf. Mitchiner 983, Izmirlier 464, Album 1218 (none with these controls, date on our coin uncertain), VF, toned, weight 2.987 g, maximum diameter 22.6 mm, die axis 270o, Siwas (Sivas, Turkey) mint, AH 637 - 641; obverse al-imam al-mustansir billah amir al-mu'minin (the Imam al-Mustansir, Commander of the Faithful), sun in radiance above lion passant right (the sun in Leo), pellets between rays of sun, no stars or crescents (controls), pellet (control) below lion; reverse in central square: al-sultan / al-a'zam / kaykhusraw / ibn kayqubad (the Supreme Sultan Kaykhusraw ibn Kayqubad); around: mint & dates (struck in Siwas, in the year [639?]) ; ex Specialty Stamp and Coin, Champagne, IL (2002); scarce variety; $100.00 SALE |PRICE| $90.00


Northern Syria, 2nd to 3rd Century A.D.

|Roman| |Syria|, |Northern| |Syria,| |2nd| |to| |3rd| |Century| |A.D.|, |AE| |15|
This type has long been attributed to Pharaoh Nektanebo II. Butcher, however, notes it is quite common in the vicinity of Antioch and in Northern Syria and the obverse style is similar to third century Antiochene zodiacal type coins. He suggests they may have been struck under Hadrian.
RY90994. Bronze AE 15, Butcher p. 405, 11; Weiser p. 16, 1 (Nektanebo II, Memphis, Egypt), F, scratches and bumps, light earthen deposits, weight 3.383 g, maximum diameter 15.3 mm, die axis 0o, uncertain (Antioch?) mint, 2nd to 3rd century A.D.; obverse ram (Ares) leaping left, head turned back right; reverse balance scale (Libra), weak countermark; $80.00 SALE |PRICE| $72.00


Septimius Severus, 9 April 193 - 4 February 211 A.D., Nikopolis ad Istrum

|Nikopolis|, |Septimius| |Severus,| |9| |April| |193| |-| |4| |February| |211| |A.D.,| |Nikopolis| |ad| |Istrum|, |assarion|
There are peculiarities about these Roman crescent and star reverse types that are difficult to understand. First, the crescents are almost always depicted with the horns up. The moon is never seen this way in the sky. Also, in the sky stars are never visible within the horns of the crescent moon because there they would be behind the shadowed yet solid and opaque orb. The crescent with horns up may represent a solar eclipse.
RP92881. Bronze assarion, H-H-J Nikopolis 8.14.48.37 (R2), Varbanov I 2474 var. (obv. leg.), AMNG I/I 1432, Moushmov 986, gVF, green patina, slightly off center, scratches, spot of corrosion on reverse, weight 2.928 g, maximum diameter 16.6 mm, die axis 180o, Nicopolis ad Istrum (Nikyup, Bulgaria) mint, 9 Apr 193 - 4 Feb 211 A.D.; obverse AY K Λ CEVHPOC, laureate head right; reverse NIKOΠOΛITΩN ΠPOC IC, five stars above and within crescent with horns upward; $80.00 SALE |PRICE| $72.00


Pontos (Uncertain City), c. 119 - 100 B.C.

|Pontos|, |Pontos| |(Uncertain| |City),| |c.| |119| |-| |100| |B.C.|, |AE| |11|
The comets depicted are almost certainly the comets described in Justin's epitome of the Historiae Philippicae of the Augustan historian Pompeius Trogus (Justin 37.2.1-2): "The future greatness of this man [Mithridates Eupator] had been foretold by heavenly portents. For both in the year in which he was born [134/133 B.C.] and in the year in which he first began to rule [120/119 B.C.], a comet gleamed so brightly for 70 days throughout each period that the whole sky seemed to be on fire. In its extent, each of these comets filled one quarter of the sky and surpassed the sun in brilliance. They took four hours to rise and four hours to set."
GB94425. Bronze AE 11, SNG BM 984; SNG Stancomb 653; Lindgren III 154; HGC 7 317, aVF, earthen encrustation in fields, typical tight flan, weight 1.403 g, maximum diameter 10.6 mm, Pontos, uncertain mint, c. 119 - 100 B.C.; obverse horse-head right, with star (comet) of eight points and central pellet on and below neck; reverse comet star of seven points, central pellet, and tail to right; rare; $60.00 SALE |PRICE| $54.00







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