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Collecting History through Ancient Coins

Holding an ancient coin is holding history in your hands. Some coins actually depict historical events. Many include the image of a historic king or emperor. Every ancient coin relates to the people and events of the time and place it was struck. Every ancient coin relates to an interesting historical story. The stories on this page are a primary source of our ancient coin obsession. We hope you enjoy them.

Judaea, Bar Kochba Revolt, 132 - 135 A.D.

|Bar| |Kochba|, |Judaea,| |Bar| |Kochba| |Revolt,| |132| |-| |135| |A.D.||AE| |20|
The Bar Kokhba revolt, led by Simon bar Kokhba, was the last of the major Jewish–Roman wars. The Roman army suffered heavy losses. It took six full legions, auxiliaries, and elements from as many as six more legions three years to crush the revolt. The Romans annihilated much of the Judean population. In 134, the they captured Jerusalem and Simon bar Kokhba was killed in 135. An altar to Jupiter was erected on the site of the Temple. The Jewish diaspora began as Hadrian barred Jews from Jerusalem and had survivors were dispersed across the Roman Empire. Many were sold into slavery. The Jewish people remained scattered without a homeland for close to two millennia.
JD98134. Bronze AE 20, Mildenberg p. 332, 156 (O4/R6); SNG ANS 586 (same dies); Meshorer AJC 80; Meshorer TJC p. 255, 301; Hendin 1439; Sofaer p. 283, 166, Choice gVF, well centered and struck, attractive applied desert patina, weight 5.293 g, maximum diameter 18.4 mm, die axis 180o, Jerusalem mint, undated, year 3, 134 - 135 A.D.; obverse Paleo-Hebrew inscription: "Jerusalem", seven-branched palm tree with two small bunches of dates, top of tree bent to the left; reverse Paleo-Hebrew inscription: 'For the Freedom of Jerusalem', bunch of grapes on vine with small leaf; extraordinary for the type!; scarce; $1300.00 SALE PRICE $1170.00


The Triumvirs, Mark Antony and Cleopatra, c. Autumn 34 B.C.

|Cleopatra| |VII|, |The| |Triumvirs,| |Mark| |Antony| |and| |Cleopatra,| |c.| |Autumn| |34| |B.C.||tessera|
This lead seal clearly copies the portrait of Cleopatra VII as represented on the denarius type RRC 543/1 - everything from the countenance of the face, the hairstyle, and the drapery matches closely. The seal is made to a much higher standard than is usual with lead tesserae - it may have been struck from an unknown coin die - and the presence of the caduceus may relate to the cult of Isis. -- Andrew McCabe
SH95312. Lead tessera, apparently unpublished, but cf. Crawford 543/1 for a similar portrait, VF, brown patina with touches of red, weight 6.491 g, maximum diameter 21.7 mm, c. autumn 34 B.C.; obverse diademed and draped female bust right (Cleopatra?), winged caduceus before; reverse blank; ex CNG e-sale 458 (18 Dec 2019), lot 305; ex Andrew McCabe Collection, ex Marc de Cock (Belgium); $720.00 SALE PRICE $648.00


Julia Mamaea, Augusta 13 March 222 - February or March 235 A.D.

|Julia| |Mamaea|, |Julia| |Mamaea,| |Augusta| |13| |March| |222| |-| |February| |or| |March| |235| |A.D.||denarius|
Describing this coin "as-found" does not mean recently found. This coin, part of a family collection assembled over generations, was found long ago. Silver denarii sold as found with their natural dark toning are rare. Very often the toning is uneven and unattractive and the coins are cleaned to remove it. This coin and others from the find were clearly an exception and its attractive toning has been left intact for decades and should never be removed.
RS94695. Silver denarius, RIC IV 358, RSC III 76, BMCRE VI 713, Hunter III 5, SRCV II 8216, Choice EF, very attractive as-found dark hoard toning, well centered, attractive portrait, small edge splits, weight 1.854 g, maximum diameter 19.6 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, c. 231 A.D.; obverse IVLIA MAMAEA AVG, draped bust right, wearing stephane, hair in waved horizontal ridges, looped plait at back of neck; reverse VENVS VICTRIX (victorious Venus), Venus standing half left, head left, helmet extended in right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand, grounded shield on left at feet against far side; from the Ray Nouri Collection; $360.00 SALE PRICE $324.00


Judean Kingdom, Mattathias Antigonus (Mattatayah), 40 - 37 B.C.

|Mattathias| |Antigonus|, |Judean| |Kingdom,| |Mattathias| |Antigonus| |(Mattatayah),| |40| |-| |37| |B.C.||eight| |prutot|
This coin was "professionally cleaned and conserved" in Israel. Although it is beautiful, to the educated eye, the patina does not look natural. It is "enhanced" or "applied." Enhanced or applied patinas are not tragic. Coins with enhanced or applied patinas often sell for very high prices. We prefer a beautiful natural patina, but mother nature does not always comply. At Forum Ancient Coins, if we believe a patina has been enhanced or applied, we will include that in the coin's description.
JD97652. Bronze eight prutot, Meshorer TJC 36; Hendin 1162; Sofaer 418 ff; SNG ANS 183 ff.; BMC Palestine p. 212, 2 ff.; SNG Cop 64; HGC 10 646 (S), VF, enhanced/applied desert patina, reverse a little off center and weakly struck, weight 13.727 g, maximum diameter 22.9 mm, die axis 0o, Jerusalem mint, 40 - 37 B.C.; obverse Paleo-Hebrew inscription: Mattatayah the High Priest and Council of the Jews, around and between the horns of a double cornucopia; reverse BACIΛEΩC ANTIΓONOY (of King Antigonus), ivy wreath tied at the top with ribbons hanging down; from an Israeli collection; scarce; $270.00 SALE PRICE $243.00


The First Jewish Revolt, 66 - 70 A.D.

|First| |Jewish| |Revolt|, |The| |First| |Jewish| |Revolt,| |66| |-| |70| |A.D.||prutah|
Vespasian, along with legions X Fretensis and V Macedonica, landed at Ptolemais in April 67. There he was joined by his son Titus, who arrived from Alexandria at the head of Legio XV Apollinaris, as well as by the armies of various local allies including that of King Agrippa II. Fielding more than 60,000 soldiers, Vespasian began operations by subjugating Galilee. Many towns gave up without a fight, although others had to be taken by force. Of these, Josephus provides detailed accounts of the sieges of Yodfat and Gamla. By the year 68, Jewish resistance in the north had been crushed, and Vespasian made Caesarea Maritima his headquarters and methodically proceeded to clear the coast. -- Wikipedia
JD97721. Bronze prutah, Kadman III 12; Meshorer TJC 196a, Hendin 1360; SNG ANS 427; Sofaer Collection pl. 222, 11, VF, attractive green patina with natural earthen highlighting, tight flan, a little off center, obverse edge beveled, edge irregular where pre-strike casting sprues were broken off, weight 2.554 g, maximum diameter 17.6 mm, die axis 180o, Jerusalem mint, year 2, 67 - 68 A.D.; obverse Paleo-Hebrew: Year two, amphora with fluted body, narrow neck, broad rim, and two small curved handles; reverse Paleo-Hebrew: The freedom of Zion, vine leaf on small branch with tendril; $195.00 SALE PRICE $176.00


Hierapolis, Phrygia, in Homonoia with Ephesos, 253 - 260 A.D.

|Hierapolis|, |Hierapolis,| |Phrygia,| |in| |Homonoia| |with| |Ephesos,| |253| |-| |260| |A.D.||diassarion|
The title NEOKOPON on the reverse of this type, and other similar coins, has been the topic of debate for more than a century. Hierapolis was honored with a neokoros (imperial temple) either during the reign of Caracalla or Elagabalus. Caracalla rarely gave this honor, but if the honor was given by Caracalla, it would have lasted many decades. If the honor was given during the reign of Elagabalus, as many numismatists and historians believe, it would have been lost with his damnatio. Yet, the title appears here, on a coin struck long after Elagabalus' demise. This coin, however, was struck by Hierapolis honoring its alliance (homonoia) with Ephesos, Ionia. After Elagabalus, at Hierapolis, neokoros titles only appear on homonoia coinage. It seems odd, especially since the title is on the reverse with the name Hierapolis, but the most supported argument is that NEOKOPON refers to a temple at Ephesos, not one at Hierapolis.
RP97256. Bronze diassarion, Franke-Nolle, type IX, 760 - 763 (B/49); Weber HpH p. 74 (A/b); Johnston Hierapolis -; BMC Phrygia -; SNG Cop -; SNGvA -; SNG Mün -; SNG Tüb -, gVF, well centered and struck with full legends, nice dark green patina, some porosity, weight 5.120 g, maximum diameter 23.5 mm, die axis 180o, Phrygia, Hierapolis (near Pamukkale, Turkey) mint, time of Valerius and Gallienus, 253 - 260 A.D.; obverse OMONY/A - K EΦEC-IΩN (clockwise from 3:00), laureate, veiled, and draped bust of Boule right; reverse IEPAΠ-O-ΛEITΩN; NEOKO-PΩN in fields, clockwise from lower left, Nike advancing left, wreath in extended right hand, palm frond against left shoulder in left hand; ex Leu Numismatik web auction 13 (15 August 2020), lot 886; this coin is one of only two specimens of this type listed in Coin Archives auction records spanning the last two decades; very rare; $180.00 SALE PRICE $162.00


Judean Kingdom, Mattathias Antigonus (Mattatayah), 40 - 37 B.C.

|Mattathias| |Antigonus|, |Judean| |Kingdom,| |Mattathias| |Antigonus| |(Mattatayah),| |40| |-| |37| |B.C.||prutah|
Parthia took Judaea in 40 B.C. and made Mattathias Antigonus their vassal King. Antigonus bit off Hyrcanus II's ears to render him ineligible for High Priest and sent him to Babylon in chains. Herod fled to Rome but returned with Roman support and took Jerusalem in 37 B.C. Dio Cassius says Antigonus was crucified but most accounts say he was beheaded.

On this type the inscription is almost always retrograde. The Paleo-Hebrew inscription reads, in two retrograde lines, from left to right: MTT/(YH) (Mattatayah). On this coin the last two letter, the second line, is ligate (combined like a monogram). See Reading Judean Coins in NumisWiki.
JD97659. Bronze prutah, Meshorer TJC 40a, Sofaer Collection 444, HGC 10 649, Hendin 1164 var. (no ligature), SNG ANS 192 var. (same), BMC Palestine p. 219, 57 var. (same), F, highlighting earthen deposits, a little rough, reverse off center, weight 1.655 g, maximum diameter 12.6 mm, die axis 0o, Jerusalem mint, 40 - 37 B.C.; obverse retrograde Paleo-Hebrew inscription in two lines: MTT/(YH) = Mattatayah (last two letters ligate), surrounded by wreath and border of dots; reverse double cornucopia adorned with ribbons, barley ear between horns, border of dots; from an Israeli collection; rare variant; $160.00 SALE PRICE $144.00


The First Jewish Revolt, 66 - 70 A.D.

|First| |Jewish| |Revolt|, |The| |First| |Jewish| |Revolt,| |66| |-| |70| |A.D.||prutah|NEW
By 68, Jewish resistance in the north had been crushed. Vespasian made Caesarea Maritima his headquarters and methodically proceeded to clear the coast. In the winter of 68, Titus set up camp at Jericho and cut off escape routes toward Jerusalem.
JD98160. Bronze prutah, Kadman III 12; Meshorer TJC 196, Hendin 1360; SNG ANS 427; Sofaer Collection pl. 222, 11, VF, highlighting earthen deposits (desert patina), reverse a little off center, obverse edge beveled, weight 3.028 g, maximum diameter 17.8 mm, die axis 150o, Jerusalem mint, year 2, 67 - 68 A.D.; obverse Paleo-Hebrew: Year two, amphora with fluted body, narrow neck, broad rim, and two small curved handles; reverse Paleo-Hebrew: The freedom of Zion, vine leaf on small branch with tendril; $160.00 SALE PRICE $144.00


FORVM The First Jewish Revolt 66 - 70 AD

|First| |Jewish| |Revolt|, |FORVM| |The| |First| |Jewish| |Revolt| |66| |-| |70| |AD||prutah|
In 69 A.D., Vespasian began to lay siege to Jerusalem, the city ws captured the following year by his son Titus. On 4 August 70 A.D. Titus destroyed the Temple. The Jewish fast of Tisha B'Av mourns the Fall of Jerusalem annually on this date.
JD97729. Bronze prutah, Hendin 1363; Meshorer TJC 204; SNG ANS 446; Sofaer Collection pl. 223, 31, VF, nice blue-green patina, tight flan and uneven strike leaving much of legends weak/of flan, irregular edge from pre-strike sprue removal, weight 2.577 g, maximum diameter 17.8 mm, die axis 0o, Jerusalem mint, year 3, 68 - 69 A.D.; obverse Paleo-Hebrew: Year three, amphora with fluted body, narrow neck, broad rim, two handles, and conical fluted lid decorated with tiny globule at peak and row of tiny globules around edge; reverse Paleo-Hebrew: The freedom of Zion, vine leaf on small branch with tendril; $150.00 SALE PRICE $135.00


Judean Kingdom, Mattathias Antigonus (Mattatayah), 40 - 37 B.C.

|Mattathias| |Antigonus|, |Judean| |Kingdom,| |Mattathias| |Antigonus| |(Mattatayah),| |40| |-| |37| |B.C.||four| |prutot|
Parthia took Judaea in 40 B.C. and made Mattathias Antigonus their vassal King. After Antigonus bit off his ears to render him ineligible for High Priest, Hyrcanus II was sent to Babylon in chains. Herod fled to Rome but returned with Roman support and took Jerusalem in 37 B.C. Dio Cassius says Antigonus was crucified but most accounts say he was beheaded.
JD97653. Bronze four prutot, Meshorer TJC 37a (but same obv. die as TJC 37), Sofaer Collection 426 (same rev. die), Hendin 1163, SNG ANS 189, SNG Cop 65, HGC 10 647 (S), gF, much of inscriptions legible, highlighting earthen deposits, a little rough/porous, rev. off center, pre-strike casting seam/sprues as normal for the type, weight 7.039 g, maximum diameter 19.1 mm, die axis 270o, Jerusalem mint, 40 - 37 B.C.; obverse Paleo-Hebrew legend: Mattatayah the High Priest, single cornucopia tied with ribbons, grapes and grape vine hang; reverse BACIΛ/EΩC ANT/IΓONOY (of King Antigonus) in three lines, within wreath tied on the left side; from an Israeli collection; scarce; $130.00 SALE PRICE $117.00




  



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