Monday, July 7, 2008
Trajan, Phrygia, Hierapolis
AE32 (17.46 gm)
Laureate, draped and cuirassed bust left, AV KAI ΘEOV VΩ NEPBA TPAIANΩ CEΓEPMA / Athena, holding spear and shield, standing right, and Hermes, holding purse and caduceus, standing left, IEPAΠO ΛEITΩN. BMC 129 (same obverse die).
Let me begin by reminding you that the photo above has been compressed to fit the dimensions allowed by blogger.com. A larger, more worthy image is available by clicking on the photo.
Occasionally, we are presented with a coin that we just can't stop thinking about. There was a large AE of Tiberius from Oea on which I truly regret not having bid just a little more. There was also a gorgeous tetradrachm of Alexander 'the Great' upon which I wish I had bid a little more! Both coins were in the same CNG auction and each diluted my chances at winning the other! I still think of those coins and how they 'got away'!
Then there was this coin. It was a 'cover coin', with it's reverse featured on the cover of the auction catalog. I couldn't get away from it! I obsessed about the coin for weeks. I finally decided I wouldn't let this one get away like the Tiberius and Alexander... and, as you can see, it didn't!
This coin bewitched me chiefly for reasons of eye appeal. First of all, it's a large coin, with full legends, and on a large flan. Additionally, the portrait of Trajan and depictions of both Athena and Hermes are of very fine style! And, to top all that off, the coin exhibits a lovely array of colors, including purple, copper, olive and gold! Unfortunately, I couldn't capture them all in my photo.
As if that weren't enough, the coin is from the city of Hierapolis in Phrygia, which was thought to be the site of an entrance into the underworld from which an offensive, noxious odor was emitted! Ah, stinky town... my kind of place! It was also known for its hot springs so I imagine the source of this odor was sulfur.
This coin is my new favorite, replacing the 'croc' coin I wish I'd never sold. This one's even sweeter though, as it's one I didn't let get away in auction!
Sunday, July 6, 2008
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!