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Lead Tessera Zeus-Serapis Caesarea Maritima Mystery

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Hi, all.  Here is another very tiny lead tessera that has me stumped.  The obverse has a male figure to right.  At first I thought maybe Helios, but there are no rays and the figure appears to be clothed and bearded.  The gesture strongly suggests Serapis, but the modius is either missing or off-flan.  Bonner has some examples of amulets with Zeus and Zeus-Serapis wearing himation, so this is what I have gone with.  The reverse is half off-flan and much more obscure.  I am thinking maybe an architectural type with altar, or tree, or maybe throne, crown, or even some type of couch/bed.  I am not even sure which orientation is correct.  Any ideas would be appreciated.  Thanks, Jimi

Lead Tessera
Caesarea Maritima
1st - 3rd century CE
Obv: Zeus-Serapis advancing left, clothed,
raising hand in gesture, (or holding object?),
(staff in left hand?), and (eagle at feet?).
Rev:  Uncertain type, partially off-flan, perhaps
throne, or crown, or couch, or temple with altar???
PB 9 x 8 x 1.5mm. 0.51gm. Axis: ?
Surface find Caesarea Maritima, 1976.

A person with a spear or a long sceptre standing before an altar (on the left)? Roughly like on the reverse of this coin:



Thank you Altamura.  I think that is the best explanation so far.  I had resisted the idea of a human figure because it was so skinny, but the tessera is only 8mm so maybe I was expecting too much!

Hi v-d,

Thanks for referring me to this topic. I never would have seen it.

I think Alta is referring to the obverse, not the reverse. I want to clear up any potential confusion.

Regarding the reverse, the object has a bend in it, and streamers hanging down on each side. This reminds me of a filleted cornucopia. Of course, your guesses may also be correct. Unfortunately, this object is so abstract/stylized that we may never figure out what it is.

I don't know if you looked at my website, but I have a lead tessera from Caesarea Maritima. On the obverse of my example, there is an abstract/stylized object with a design similar to the reverse of your example (basically what appears to be a triangle).

Here is a link (first coin):


Hi, Meepzorp.  Nice tessera.  I have a paper with drawings from the Hamburger Collection of tesserae from Caesarea, and I will look in there to see if there is anything similar to yours.  I have a friend in Israel who is working on another very large collection of these and it will be most interesting to see them when they are published.  The link Altamura provided shows Salus in a similar stance to the lines on my reverse, but unless we come up with another example from the same die it will be hard to be certain.  My tessera is so small and worn that if the light is coming from certain angles there doesn't appear to be anything at all!  Thanks, again, and yes I look at your website all the time for references!

Best regards, Jimi


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