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Emesa (Homs, Syria) - Julia Domna
IOV[ΛIA] ΔOMNA [AVΓ]. , bust of Julia Domna right
[EMICΩ]N KOΛΩNIAC / ZKΦ : year 527 sel. = 215-216 AD. , monumental cubic altar on three steps, with 2 storeys ornamented with 3 niches with statues, small lighted altar on top.
24 mm

This kind of monumental cubic altar is well-known in Roman Syria. There was one much like it in front of Jupiter's Temple in Heliopolis (Baalbek, Lebanon), not far from Emesa ; it has been excavated and partially restored by a Swiss mission. A structure f the same kind has been recently restored by Jacques Seigne in Gerasa (Jerash, Jordan) in front of Zeus Temple. We know no trace of any ancient sanctuary in today's Homs, but this altar, depicted on this coin, was probably in front of the Elagabal Temple. The High-Priest (future emperor Elagabalus) is said to have been "dancing around the altars" : this was in fact the circumambulatio, exactly like today's Muslims turn around the Cube (Kaaba) in Mekka.
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