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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Themes & Provenance ▸ Types ▸ AstronomyView Options:  |  |  |   

Astronomy on Ancient Coins

Rhodos, Carian Islands, c. 229 - 205 B.C.

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Perhaps this coin did not immediately catch your eye? Of course you are looking at a photograph. You may have seen many similar fine drachms. In hand, though, it is immediately clear that this is not a drachm but rather the much larger tetradrachm - and in extraordinary sculptural high relief !
SH30332. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Keckman 548, SNG Cop -, Choice aEF, weight 13.403 g, maximum diameter 26.3 mm, die axis 0o, Rhodos (Rhodes, Greece) mint, c. 229 - 205 B.C.; obverse radiate head of Helios facing slightly right; reverse PO∆I−ON, rose with bud right, thunderbolt (control symbol) left, magistrate's name EYKPATHΣ above; sculptural high-relief, fine style, light toning and a broad flan, ex CNG; SOLD


Augustus, 16 January 27 B.C. - 19 August 14 A.D.

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"The Julian Star" appeared in the sky during the funeral games for Julius Caesar in July 44 B.C. It was a comet and the Romans believed it was a divine manifestation of the apotheosis of Julius Caesar.
SH26033. Silver denarius, RIC I 37a, BMCRE I 323, RSC I 98, aVF, banker's marks, graffiti, weight 3.520 g, maximum diameter 22.1 mm, die axis 180o, Caesaraugusta (Zaragoza, Spain) mint, 19 - 18 B.C.; obverse CAESAR AVGVSTVS, head of Augustus left, wearing oak wreath (corona civitas); reverse comet of eight rays, a central dot and flaming tail upwards, DIVVS - IVLIVS horizontal divided flanking across the field at center; ex CNG; SOLD


Julius Caesar, Imperator and Dictator, October 49 - 15 March 44 B.C.

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"The coin that killed Caesar." The Romans believed that only kings put their portraits on coins. Caesar ignored this tradition and struck coins with his portrait and an obverse legend declaring his position as "Dictator for Life." According to Plutarch, a seer had warned that harm would come to Caesar no later than the Ides of March. On his way to the Theatre of Pompey, where he would be assassinated, Caesar passed the seer and joked, "The ides of March have come," meaning to say that the prophecy had not been fulfilled, to which the seer replied, "Aye, Caesar, but not gone." For Caesar to put his image on coins and in effect declare himself king was too much for Brutus and his senator allies. Only weeks after this coin was issued, on the Ides of March (15 March) 44 B.C. Caesar was stabbed to death by as many as 63 conspirators.
RS73140. Silver denarius, Crawford 480/14; RSC I 39/40, BMCRR 4175, Sydenham 1074a, Sear Imperator 107e, SRCV I -, F, excellent portrait, attractive toning, uneven strike with unstruck areas, banker's mark, slightly irregular flan, weight 3.437 g, maximum diameter 21.5 mm, die axis 225o, Rome mint, moneyer P. Sepullius Macer, Feb - Mar 44 B.C.; obverse CAESAR DICT PERPETVO, laureate and veiled head of Caesar right; reverse P SEPVLLIVS MACER, Venus Victrix standing left, head lowered, Victory in right hand, long scepter with star at bottom vertical behind in left hand; ex Roma Numismatics e-auction 13 (29 Nov 2014), lot 361; ex Andrew McCabe Collection; ex Roma Numismatics e-auction 4 (28 Dec 2013), lot 543; rare; SOLD


Antoninus Pius, August 138 - 7 March 161 A.D., Roman Provincial Egypt, Zodiac Type - Jupiter in Sagittarius

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This coin is from the Zodiac series issued during year eight of the reign of Antoninus Pius, described by Emmett as "one of the more remarkable iconographic programs in the entire scope of Greek or Roman coinage. Jupiter is associated with luck and good fortune. According to alwaysastrology.com, those born with Jupiter in Sagittarius attract good luck as long as they are generous, tolerant and practice what they preach. If you would like to see if you were born with Jupiter in Sagittarius (or another sign), click here to visit alwaysastrology.com.
RP72129. Bronze drachm, cf. RPC Online IV 14873; Dattari 2972; Dattari-Savio Suppl. pl. 19, 148; Geissen 1502; Milne 1822; BMC Alexandria p. 128, 1087; Emmett 1692/8, aF, nice reverse, obverse rough, weight 20.668 g, maximum diameter 33.5 mm, die axis 315o, Alexandria mint, 29 Aug 144 - 28 Aug 145 A.D.; obverse AUT K T AIΛ A∆P ANTWNEINOC CEB EVC, laureate (and draped?) bust right; reverse Zodiac type - Jupiter in Sagittarius: laureate bust of Zeus (Jupiter) right above a centaur (Sagittarius) leaping right and drawing bow, a star above centaur's head, L H (year 8) below; last sale for this type on Coin Archives was in 2010; very rare; SOLD


Augustus, 16 January 27 B.C. - 19 August 14 A.D.

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"The Julian Star" appeared in the sky during the funeral games for Julius Caesar in July 44 B.C. It was a comet and the Romans believed it was a divine manifestation of the apotheosis of Julius Caesar.
SH48877. Silver denarius, RIC I 37b, RSC I 97, BMCRE I 326, SRCV I 1607, aVF, banker's marks, toned, weight 3.562 g, maximum diameter 21.0 mm, die axis 180o, Caesaraugusta (Zaragoza, Spain) mint, 19 - 18 B.C.; obverse CAESAR AVGVSTVS, head of Augustus right, wearing oak wreath (Corona Civitas); reverse comet of eight rays, a central dot and flaming tail upwards, DIVVS - IVLIVS horizontal divided flanking across the field at center; SOLD


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

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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 31.14Ė15); 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 PO∆ION, rose with bud right, aphlaston and EY (control symbols) left; SOLD


Rhodos, Carian Islands, c. 250 - 230 B.C.

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Helios was the ancient Greek personification of the sun. Each day he drove the chariot of the sun across the sky. The Colossus of Rhodes, the sixth of the seven wonders of the ancient world, was a huge statue of Helios measuring 32 meters (100 feet) high, built at Rhodes in 280 B.C. Rhodes held annual gymnastic games in honor of Helios.
SH26696. Silver didrachm, Ashton Rhodes 208, SNG Keckman 538, aEF, weight 6.632 g, maximum diameter 20.8 mm, die axis 0o, Rhodos (Rhodes, Greece) mint, c. 250 - 230 B.C.; obverse radiate head of Helios facing slightly right; reverse MNAΣIMAXOΣ, rose with bud right, Athena (control symbol) lower left, circle of dots around; SOLD


Cyprus, Time of Augustus, 27 B.C. - 14 A.D.

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Augustus' sun sign was Libra. We don't know why he selected the Capricorn as his emblem. Perhaps Capricorn was either his rising sign or his Moon sign. Popular astrology, of the newspaper kind, is sun sign astrology. The ancients tended to attach more importance to the Moon sign and rising signs. Perhaps Augustus selected the Capricorn because it is associated with stern moral authority. Tiberius (born Nov. 13) was a Scorpio.
SH72881. Bronze hemiobol, RPC I 3916; Bank of Cyprus 6; BMC Galatia p. 112, 4 (Commagene); SNG Cop -, Choice EF, beautiful desert patina, weight 2.371 g, maximum diameter 18.1 mm, die axis 0o, Cypriot mint, 27 B.C. - 14 A.D.; obverse capricorn right, star with six rays above; reverse scorpion left, star with six rays above; SOLD


Antoninus Pius, August 138 - 7 March 161 A.D.

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The Temple of Antoninus and Faustina is an ancient Roman temple in Rome, adapted as a Roman Catholic church, Chiesa di San Lorenzo in Miranda. It is in the Forum Romanum, on the Via Sacra, opposite the Regia. The temple was begun by Antoninus Pius in 141 and was initially dedicated to his deceased and deified wife, Faustina the Elder. When Antoninus Pius was deified after his death in 161 AD, the temple was re-dedicated jointly to Antoninus and Faustina at the instigation of his successor, Marcus Aurelius. The ten monolithic Corinthian columns of its pronaos are 17 metres high. The rich bas-reliefs of the frieze under the cornice, of garlanded griffons and candelabri, were often copied from the sixteenth through the nineteenth centuries. San Lorenzo in Miranda
RB87194. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC III 746a, Cohen II 464, Hunter II 211, BMCRE IV 1641, SRCV II 4185, VF, well centered, excellent portrait, attractive reverse style, turning marks, light corrosion, porous, weight 25.180 g, maximum diameter 34.07 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 140 - 144 A.D.; obverse ANTONINVS AVG PIVS P P TR P COS III, laureate head right; reverse Italia seated left on celestial globe, wearing turreted crown, holding cornucopia before her in right hand, short scepter in left hand and cradled in left arm, S - C (senatus consulto) flanking across field, ITALIA in exergue; SOLD


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

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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, EF, weight 8.601 g, maximum diameter 28.7 mm, die axis 0o, 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[...] in exergue; SOLD




  




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Astronomy