Sunday, July 6, 2008
The Second of 19
Marcus Ambibulus, Roman Prefect under Augustus, AD 9-12.
AE Prutah, 17mm (2.06 gm). Struck AD 9.
Ear of barley curved to right, KAICA-POC ("of Caesar") / Eight-branched palm tree bearing two bunches of dates, L ΛΘ (Year 39) in field below. H-636; AJC II, Supp. V, 3.
You may recall that I expressed a newfound interest in the coins of the Roman prefects and procurators. A friend, Ken Baumheckel, lit this fire that has proven a true area of interest... it has passed the 'passing fad' test with true colors. As I mentioned in a previous blog entry, A New Obsession?, there were 14 prefects and procurators, of which only 6 issued coins. Of those 6 who issued coins, a total of 19 different coins were issued (Hendin numbers 635-653). You can refer to my previous blog entry (link above) for a complete list of these prefects and procurators.
This coin was issued under the second such prefect/procurator... Marcus Ambibulus. Marcus Ambibulus served under Augustus from AD 9-12. Little is known about Ambibulus except that he succeeded Coponius in the role of prefect. Only one coin 'type' was issued under both Coponius and Ambibulus, differentiated only by the date indicated on the reverse. In the case of Ambibulus, coins were issued in 3 different years, including:
L ΛΘ (Year 39)
Hendin 636... this coin
LM (Year 40)
LMA (Year 41)
The coins of the procurators tend to be a bit crude. Finding nicer examples requires a degree of patience and forgiveness of flaw or defect. In the case of my coin, the reverse suffers from a lack of perfect centering, though the devices and date are all present. Both the obverse and reverse show wear... neither the ear of barley nor the palm tree show all the detail present when the coin was struck. The grains in the ear of barley are worn smooth showing little definition as are the palm fronds, trunk and bunches of dates. Nonetheless, this is one of the nicer examples I've seen. Perhaps it'll only be a placeholder until a nicer example comes along. Perhaps it'll hold a permanent place in my collection. In either case, it represents the second coin in my collection of the Roman prefects and procurators... a prutah of Pontius Pilate being my first.
I must add that the 'thrill of the chase' hasn't waned since I first set out on my quest to complete a type-set of the 19 coins of the Roman prefects and procurators. With age has come patience and with patience, great coins like this one!