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

Astronomy on Ancient Coins
Antioch, Seleukis and Pieria, Syria, 128 - 129 A.D.

|Antioch|, |Antioch,| |Seleukis| |and| |Pieria,| |Syria,| |128| |-| |129| |A.D.||trichalkon|
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.
GB90244. Bronze trichalkon, RPC Online III 3729, Butcher CRS 266, McAlee 125(d), SNG Hunterian II 2950, F, dark near black patina, highlighting red earthen deposits, weight 5.145 g, maximum diameter 18.8 mm, die axis 0o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, reign of Hadrian, 128 - 129 A.D.; obverse ANTIOXEΩN THC MHTPOΠOΛEWC, veiled and turreted head of Tyche right, weak countermark at chin; reverse ram leaping right, looking back, star within crescent above, ET ZOP (year 177 of the Caesarean Era) below; $90.00 (Ä84.60)


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

|Nikopolis|, |Septimius| |Severus,| |9| |April| |193| |-| |4| |February| |211| |A.D.,| |Nikopolis| |ad| |Istrum,| |Moesia| |Inferior||assarion|
A crescent with horns up with a star or stars above and within probably represents a solar eclipse.
RP110612. Bronze assarion, H-H-J Nikopolis 8.14.48.29, Varbanov I 2410, AMNG I/I 1435, Moushmov 986, SNG Cop -, BMC Thrace -, VF, green patina, full legends, edge a little ragged, weight 4.114 g, maximum diameter 17.9 mm, die axis 30o, Nicopolis ad Istrum (Nikyup, Bulgaria) mint, obverse AV K Λ - CEVHPOC, laureate head right; reverse NIKOΠOΛITΩN ΠPOC ICTP, three stars above and within a crescent with horns up; $90.00 (Ä84.60)


Rhodos, Carian Islands, c. 305 - 275 B.C.

|Rhodos|, |Rhodos,| |Carian| |Islands,| |c.| |305| |-| |275| |B.C.||didrachm|
Helios is the god and personification of the Sun in Greek mythology. He is the son of the Titan Hyperion and the Titaness Theia (according to Hesiod), also known as Euryphaessa (in Homeric Hymn 31) and brother of the goddesses Selene, the moon, and Eos, the dawn. Helios was described as a handsome young man crowned with the shining aureole of the Sun, who drove the chariot of the sun across the sky each day to earth-circling Oceanus and through the world-ocean returned to the East at night. In the Homeric Hymn to Helios, Helios is said to drive a golden chariot drawn by steeds (HH 31.14-15); and Pindar speaks of Helios's "fire-darting steeds" (Olympian Ode 7.71). Still later, the horses were given fire related names: Pyrois, Aeos, Aethon, and Phlegon. The equivalent of Helios in Roman mythology was Sol.
SH26700. Silver didrachm, Ashton Rhodes 161, SNG Keckman 462, gVF, toned and of fine style, weight 6.622 g, maximum diameter 20.5 mm, die axis 0o, Rhodos (Rhodes, Greece) mint, c. 305 - 275 B.C.; obverse head of Helios facing slightly right; reverse POΔION, rose with bud right, aphlaston and EY (control symbols) left; SOLD


Julian II "the Apostate," February 360 - 26 June 363 A.D.

|Julian| |II|, |Julian| |II| |"the| |Apostate,"| |February| |360| |-| |26| |June| |363| |A.D.||double| |maiorina|
The common belief which identifies the bull with the Apis bull is probably wrong. An interesting passage from Dio Chrysostom compares a good ruler to a bull. Also, Julian was most likely born in May, in the sign of Taurus. The stars are probably the two important star clusters in Taurus, Pleiades and Hyades. Taurus or Apis, this bull is pagan and this coin was the last pagan coin type issued by the Empire.
SH32850. Billon double maiorina, RIC VIII Constantinople 164 (S), SRCV V 19157, Cohen VIII 38, LRBC II 2059 var. (pellet at end of legend not noted), EF, weight 8.601 g, maximum diameter 28.7 mm, die axis 0o, 1st officina, Constantinople (Istanbul, Turkey) mint, 3 Nov 361 - 26 Jun 363 A.D.; obverse D N FL CL IVLIANVS P F AVG, pearl-diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse SECVRITAS REIPVBē (security of the Republic), bull right, two stars above, CONSP flanked by branches in exergue; scarce; SOLD


Korkyra (Corfu), Island off Epirus, Greece, c. 350 - 270 B.C.

|Epirus|, |Korkyra| |(Corfu),| |Island| |off| |Epirus,| |Greece,| |c.| |350| |-| |270| |B.C.||stater|
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.
GS68904. Silver stater, SNG Cop 157 (same obv die); HGC 6, 37 (same); BMC Thessaly p. 122, 126, VF, areas of light corrosion, weight 10.186 g, maximum diameter 23.4 mm, die axis 315o, Korkyra (Corfu) mint, obverse cow standing right, looking back at suckling calf standing left below, star above; reverse double linear bordered square divided into two compartments with a stellate pattern in each, K-O-P around, spear head left below, all within a linear circle; very rare; SOLD


Sabina, Augusta 128 - c. 136 A.D., Kestros (Cestrus), Cilicia

|Sabina|, |Sabina,| |Augusta| |128| |-| |c.| |136| |A.D.,| |Kestros| |(Cestrus),| |Cilicia||AE| |19|
Very rare city. Only one coin in the BMC (a Faustina) and one in SNG Copenhagen (Aelius). No coins in SNG von Aulock (the supplement included), Weber, and others.
SH46490. Bronze AE 19, Levante, Cilician Coinage, 2 - Kestros, NC 1991, 208, 3; SNG Levante, Supplement I, 93; SNG Cop -; BMC Lycaonia -; SNGvA -, VF, bold, weight 2.866 g, maximum diameter 18.8 mm, die axis 0o, Kestros (Cestrus) mint, obverse CEBACTH CABEINA, draped bust bust right; reverse KECTPHNwN, star within crescent; attractive dark patina, ex Sternberg 23 (2000) lot 530; very rare; SOLD


City of Rome Commemorative, 330 - 331 A.D.

|Commemoratives|, |City| |of| |Rome| |Commemorative,| |330| |-| |331| |A.D.||reduced| |centenionalis|
On some high grade examples of the VRBS ROMA series, a certain symbol can be seen or guessed on the shoulder of the wolf. It might look like the letter Θ (at Thessalonica and Alexandria) or a flock of hair, but on this well struck and preserved wolf there is an obvious star with rounded tips, different from the two above. There are no such symbols on earlier depictions (Republic and early empire) of the she-wolf as far as we know.
RL29336. Billon reduced centenionalis, RIC VII Rome 338, LRBC I 540, SRCV IV 16507, Cohen VII 17, Hunter V -, gVF, weight 2.622 g, maximum diameter 18.1 mm, die axis 180o, 4th officina, Rome mint, 330 - 331 A.D.; obverse VRBS ROMA, helmeted bust of Roma left wearing imperial mantle; reverse she-wolf standing left, head turned back right, suckling the infant twins Romulus and Remus, two stars above, RBQ in exergue; rare; SOLD


Constans, 9 September 337 - 19 January 350 A.D.

|Constans|, |Constans,| |9| |September| |337| |-| |19| |January| |350| |A.D.||quarter| |maiorina|
The Roman poet Ovid tells the story of the Phoenix: 'Most beings spring from other individuals; but there is a certain kind which reproduces itself. The Assyrians call it the Phoenix. It does not live on fruit or flowers, but on frankincense and odoriferous gums. When it has lived five hundred years, it builds itself a nest in the branches of an oak, or on the top of a palm tree. In this it collects cinnamon and spikenard, and myrrh, and of these materials builds a pile on which it deposits itself, and dying, breathes out its last breath amidst odors. From the body of the parent bird, a young Phoenix issues forth, destined to live as long a life as its predecessor. When this has grown up and gained sufficient strength, it lifts its nest from the tree (its own cradle and its parent's sepulcher), and carries it to the city of Heliopolis in Egypt, and deposits it in the temple of the Sun.'
RL71446. Billon quarter maiorina, RIC VIII Cyzicus 88 (R), LRBC II 2482, SRCV V 18721, Cohen VII 22, Voetter -, Hunter V -, Choice VF, weight 3.113 g, maximum diameter 20.1 mm, die axis 225o, 3rd officina, Cyzicus (Kapu Dagh, Turkey) mint, 348 - 350 A.D.; obverse D N CONSTA-NS P F AVG, pearl-diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse FEL TEMP REPARATIO (happy times restored), radiate Phoenix standing right on celestial globe, star right, SMKΓ in exergue; rare; SOLD


Commodus, March or April 177 - 31 December 192 A.D., Philippopolis, Thrace

|Philippopolis|, |Commodus,| |March| |or| |April| |177| |-| |31| |December| |192| |A.D.,| |Philippopolis,| |Thrace||AE| |20|
 
RP16069. Bronze AE 20, Moushmov -, BMC Thrace -, Lindgren -, SNG Righetti -, SNG Cop -, SNG Lewis -, F, obverse legend off flan and worn illegible, weight 5.386 g, maximum diameter 19.8 mm, die axis 0o, Philippopolis (Plovdiv, Bulgaria) mint, obverse [AV K A AVP KOMOΔOC] (or similar), laureate head right; reverse ΦIΛIΠΠOΠOΛEI-TΩN, crescent and three stars; very rare; SOLD


Perinthus, Thrace, Early - Mid 2nd Century A.D.

|Perinthus|, |Perinthus,| |Thrace,| |Early| |-| |Mid| |2nd| |Century| |A.D.||AE| |27|
Artemis' most distinctive attributes were her bow, arrows, and quiver. She was also sometimes equipped with hunting spears, a lyre, a water-jug, and frequently a torch or a pair of torches. Artemis was sometimes called the torch-bearing goddess; this alluding to her role as a moon goddess, wandering and shining at night. At Amphipolis she was honored with torch-races called Lampadephoria.
RP87445. Bronze AE 27, SchŲnert-Geiss Perinthos 126 (same dies); RPC III 722; Varbanov III -; BMC Thrace -; SNG Cop -, gVF, attractive dark green patina, small edge chips, die break on veil, weight 7.850 g, maximum diameter 27.3 mm, die axis 0o, Heraclea Perinthos (Marmara Ereglisi, Turkey) mint, early - mid 2nd century A.D.; obverse veiled and draped bust of Demeter right, holding grain and poppy in raised left hand; reverse ΠEPINΘIΩN, Artemis Tauropolos advancing right, holding torch in each hand; Agora auction 74 (5 Jun 2018), 59; ex Tom Buggey Collection; ex CNG e-auction 251 (9 Mar 2011), lot 218; SOLD







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