Roma Numismatics Ltd > E-Sale 110Auction date: 3 August 2023
Lot number: 1466

Price realized: 550 GBP   (Approx. 698 USD / 639 EUR)   Note: Prices do not include buyer's fees.
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Lot description:

Anonymous Æ Nummus. Alexandria, time of Maximinus II, AD 310-313. DEO SANCTO SARAPIDI, draped bust of Serapis to right, wearing modius / DEO SANCTO NILO, Nilus reclining to left, holding reed and cornucopiae; behind, hippopotamus; A in left field, ALE in exergue. van Heesch 6b (unlisted with this officina); Vagi 3384; CNG E-468, 577 (hammer: USD 600); Leu 10, 2371 (hammer: CHF 800). 1.31g, 16mm, 12h.

Good Very Fine; excellent for the type. Very Rare.

This type has often been attributed to the Festival of Isis coinage struck during the fourth century. While András Alföldi did not include this type in his catalogue of the Festival of Isis coinage (1937), it was included in the plates.

It has been convincingly argued by J. van Heesch (The Last Civic Coinages and the Religious Policy of Maximinus Daza, The Numismatic Chronicle 153, 1993) that this coin belongs to a group of small bronze denomination coins struck at Alexandria from the end of 311 until the end of 312. The coins were issued under civic authority and depicted deities specific to the area on the obverse and reverse, such as Nilus depicted here.

Contemporary civic coins issued at the mints of Nicomedia and Antioch were of the same size and weight, and typologically consistent. That civic coinage was issued by three separate mints contemporaneously is particularly significant for the last civic issue had been that of Perga in AD 275. The revival was to be temporary and can be understood within the context of the renewed period of persecution of the Christians under Maximinus Daza.

Following the death of Galerius in 311, the dioceses of Asiana, Pontica and Oriens came under the control of Maximinus. Eusebius records that embassies approached Maximinus from both Nicomedia and Antioch to request that Christians should not be allowed to live in their cities (Hist. Eccles. IX). Similar requests from other cities in the eastern dioceses followed. Maximinus, sympathetic to anti-Christian measures, gave support for the closing of Churches and confiscation of property belonging to Christians, who were also expelled from cities in the region. The revival and circulation of civic coinages depicting ancient gods during this period of persecution reflects the actions of those eastern cities and might be seen as anti-Christian propaganda.

The persecutions ended in 313, following an imperial edict restoring the privileges and property of the Christians. This sudden change in religious policy possibly resulted from the fear of reprisals from Constantine and Licinius in the west.

Estimate: 200 GBP