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

Astronomy & Astrology on Ancient Coins

Kroton, Bruttium, Italy, c. 300 - 250 B.C.

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In 295 B.C., Kroton fell to the Syracusan tyrant Agathocles. When Pyrrhus invaded Italy in 280 B.C., it was still a considerable city, with twelve miles (19 km) of walls, but after the Pyrrhic War, half the town was deserted (Livy 24.3). What was left of its population submitted to Rome in 277 B.C. After the Battle of Cannae in the Second Punic War, Hannibal made it his winter quarters for three years and the city was not recaptured until 205 or 204 B.C. In 194 B.C., it became the site of a Roman colony. Little more is heard of it during the Republican and Imperial periods.
GB92021. Bronze AE 18, SNG ANS 444; SNG Munich 1480; HN Italy 2234; BMC Italy p. 356, 117; Lindgren 339, aVF, green patina, porous, very nice for this rare type, weight 3.836 g, maximum diameter 17.9 mm, Kroton mint, c. 300 - 250 B.C.; obverse head of Persephone right, wreathed in grain; reverse three narrow crescents with horns outward, K-P-O around clockwise, one letter within each crescent; ex CNG e-auctions 233 (26 May 2010), lot 106 (est. $250, realized $270 plus fees); rare; $300.00 (264.00)


Korkyra (Corfu), Island off Epirus, Greece, c. 450 - 400 B.C.

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Corfu is a picturesque island near the coasts of Albania and Greece. The advantageous trade position allowed Corcyra to play an important role in Greek history. After the Byzantine Empire gradually collapsed it was ruled by Venice from 1401 to 1797, during which time the Turks laid several sieges against its impregnable Byzantine castle.
GS91474. Silver hemidrachm, BMC Thessaly p. 119, 82; HGC 6 45 (R1); SNG Cop -, VF, well centered, toned, light marks, edge split, weight 2.412 g, maximum diameter 14.7 mm, die axis 180o, Corcyra (Corfu) mint, c. 450 - 400 B.C.; obverse female head right (Korkyra or Dione), wearing stephane, K behind; reverse star with eight rays and pellet in center, K on right between rays; very rare; $240.00 (211.20)


Roman Republic, Manius Aquillius, 109 - 108 B.C.

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Manius Aquillius, would become a Roman general, and consul in 101 B.C. He successfully put down a revolt of the slaves in Sicily but was accused of extortion in the province. He was acquitted on account of his military services, although there was little doubt of his guilt. In the First Mithridatic War he was defeated and taken prisoner in 88 B.C. Mithradates treated him with great cruelty, and is said to have put him to death by pouring molten gold down his throat. The method of his execution became famous and, according to some accounts, was repeated by Parthian contemporaries to kill Marcus Licinius Crassus who was at the time the richest man in Rome and a member of the First Triumvirate.
RR92013. Silver denarius, Crawford 303/1, Sydenham 557, BMCRR Italy 645, RSC I Aquillia 1, SRCV I 180, RBW Collection -, Choice VF/F, darker spots, mild porosity, light marks, weight 3.899 g, maximum diameter 20.2 mm, die axis 225o, Rome mint, 109 - 108 B.C.; obverse radiate head of Sol right, X (mark of value) below chin; reverse Luna in a fast biga right, three stars and crescent above, star over MN AQVIL (MN in monogram) below, ROMA in exergue; ex Harlan J. Berk; $200.00 (176.00)


Antioch, Seleukis and Pieria, Syria, 55 - 56 A.D.

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Michael Molnar, an astronomer, believes this coin depicts Jupiter's occultation of Aries in 6 B.C., the most probable "Star of Bethlehem." We think it is unlikely; nevertheless, the type is very popular and somewhat expensive.
GB92017. Bronze trichalkon, McAlee 100 (rare); RPC I 4286 (6 spec.); SNG Cop 99; BMC Galatia p. 160, 69 var. (star within crescent), VF, black patina with orange earthen highlights, scratches, weight 5.190 g, maximum diameter 18.8 mm, die axis 0o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, reign of Nero, legate series, 55 - 56 A.D.; obverse ANTIOXEΩN, veiled and turreted head of Tyche right; reverse EΠI KOYA∆PATOY, ram leaping right, looking back, star above (no crescent), ET ∆P (year 104 of the Caesarean Era) below; ex CNG e-auction 234 (9 Jun 2010), lot 162 (realized $250 plus fees); this type is nicknamed "The Star of Bethlehem Coin"; rare; $180.00 (158.40)


Maximinus I Thrax, March 235 - May 238 A.D., Roman Provincial Egypt

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In Greek mythology, Selene is the goddess of the moon. She is the daughter of the Titans Hyperion and Theia, and sister of the sun-god Helios, and Eos, goddess of the dawn. She drives her moon chariot across the heavens. Several lovers are attributed to her in various myths, including Zeus, Pan, and the mortal Endymion. In classical times, Selene was often identified with Artemis, much as her brother, Helios, was identified with Apollo. Selene and Artemis were also associated with Hecate, and all three were regarded as lunar goddesses, but only Selene was regarded as the personification of the moon itself. Her Roman equivalent is Luna.
RP89035. Billon tetradrachm, Dattari (Savio) 4601; BMC Alexandria p. 228, 1775; Milne 3267; Kampmann 65.73; Emmett 3300.1; SNG Cop -; Geissen -, aVF, full border centering on a broad flan, dark brown patina, mild corrosion, edge cracks, weight 12.190 g, maximum diameter 23.9 mm, die axis 0o, Alexandria mint, 29 Aug 237 - 28 Aug 238 A.D.; obverse AVTO MAΞIMINOC CEV CEB, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust of Maximinus I right, seen from behind; reverse head of Selene right, wearing tainia and chiton fastened on left shoulder with a fibula, L∆ (year four) behind, large crescent right with horns left; ex CGB mail bid sale 13 (30 Jul 2001), lot 557; $145.00 (127.60)


Pontic Kingdom, Mithradates VI Eupator the Great, c. 120 - 63 B.C., Anonymous Coinage

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Mithradates VI Megas (the Great) was king of Pontus in northern Anatolia from about 119 to 63 B.C. He was of both Greek and Persian origin, claiming descent from both Alexander the Great and King Darius I of Persia. Mithradates is remembered as one of Rome's most formidable and successful enemies, who engaged three of the most prominent generals of the late Roman Republic in the so-called Mithridatic Wars: Sulla, Lucullus, and Pompey the Great. After Mithradates VI was at last defeated by Pompey and in danger of capture by Rome, he attempted suicide. The poison failed because he had taken daily doses to build immunity. He then made his bodyguard and friend, Bituitus, kill him by the sword.
GB89057. Bronze AE 26, SNG Stancomb 649, SNG BM 973, SNG Cop 232, HGC 7 310 (S), VF, thick, heavy coin, marks, light earthen deposits, porosity, weight 19.569 g, maximum diameter 26.5 mm, uncertain (Amisos?) mint, c. 119 - 100 B.C.; obverse male head left in a satrapal leather bashlik cap; reverse comet star of eight rays, bow right facing inward, possibly a monogram between the rays; ex Forum (2010).; scarce; $140.00 (123.20)


Kingdom of Pontus, Mithradates VI, c. 120 - 63 B.C.

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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."
GB89059. Bronze AE 22, SNG Stancomb 651, SNG BM Black Sea 976, SNG Cop 230, HGC 7 311 (S), F, dark patina, weight 10.131 g, maximum diameter 21.7 mm, Amisos(?) mint, c. 120 - 100 B.C.; obverse bow case with strap; countermark: helmet right(?) in a c. 5.5mm diameter round punch; reverse comet or star of eight rays, bow right facing inward; ex Ancient Imports; scarce; $130.00 (114.40)


Miletos, Ionia, 352 - 325 B.C.

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Miletos was an ancient Greek city on the western coast of Anatolia, near the mouth of the Maeander River. Miletos, along with most of Anatolia, was taken from Persia by Alexander the Great in 334 B.C. Miletos' greatest wealth and splendor was reached during the Hellenistic era and Roman times. Its ruins are located near the modern town of Balat in Aydin Province, Turkey. The symbols found on coins of Miletos include the lion, a star, and Apollo. The star may represent the Sun in association with Apollo.Miletus Bay

GB92003. Bronze AE 13, Deppert-Lippitz 270 - 272; SNG Cop 972; BMC Ionia p. 188, 45 ff. var. (magistrate), aVF, dark green patina, corrosion, tiny edge patina chips, weight 2.146 g, maximum diameter 12.7 mm, Miletos (near Balat, Turkey) mint, 352 - 325 B.C.; obverse lion standing left, looking back with open jaws, (Miletos monogram) above; reverse stellate ornament, EONOMI∆HΣ (magistrate) around divided by rays; ex FORVM (2009); rare; $120.00 (105.60)


Pantikapaion, Tauric Chersonesos, Thrace, c. 109 - 105 B.C.

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Panticapaeum (Kerch, Ukraine) was an important city and port in Tauric Chersonesos on the western side of the Cimmerian Bosporus. It was founded by Milesians in the late 7th or early 6th century B.C. In the 5th century B.C. it became the capital of the Thracian kings of Bosporus. The last of the kings of Bosporus left it to Mithridates VI Eupator, king of Pontus. After his defeat to Rome, he committed suicide at Panticapaeum in 63 B.C. In that same year, the city was partly destroyed by an earthquake.
GB88987. Bronze dichalkon, SNG BM 941, SNG Cop 48, MacDonald Bosporus 161, Anokhin 203, SNG Stancomb -, VF, full legend, dark patina, marks, weight 2.029 g, maximum diameter 12.8 mm, Pantikapaion (Kerch, Crimea) mint, c. 109 - 105 B.C.; obverse star of eight rays around central pellet, Π-A-N-T-I-K-A-Π between rays; reverse tripod lebes; ex Ancient Imports; scarce; $100.00 (88.00)


Prince-Bishopric of Basel, Switzerland, Early - Mid 13th Century

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Basel is a city on the Rhine River in northwest Switzerland, close to the countrys borders with France and Germany. Its medieval old town centers around Marktplatz, dominated by the 16th-century, red-sandstone Town Hall. Its 12th-century Gothic cathedral has city views, and contains the tomb of the 16th-century Dutch scholar, Erasmus. The citys university houses some of Erasmus' works.
ME92005. Silver bracteate pfennig, HMZ Schweiz 1-212a, Coraggioni -, gVF, lightly toned, uneven strike with weak area, weight 0.375 g, maximum diameter 18.9 mm, Bistum Basel mint, early - mid 13th century; obverse six-pointed star, with pellet within annulet at center; reverse incuse of obverse; ex CNG e-auction 231 (14 Apr 2010); ex Jrg Mller Collection; ex Giessener Mnzhandlung auction 32 (12 Nov 1985), lot 1831; $100.00 (88.00)




  



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Astronomy & Astrology