Era Dating Questioned
|Sale: Triton X, Lot: 616. Estimate $300.
Closing Date: Monday, 8 January 2007.
Sold For $250. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.
AD 98-117. Æ 21mm (7.14 g, 12h). Gabala mint. Dated 128 of the Actian Era(?) (AD 98). AVT NEP KAI TPAIA CEB GERM
, laureate bust right, wearing aegis / GABALEWN
, Astarte seated left, holding grain ears and poppy; at feet, sphinx left; HKP to left, GMR
to right. Unpublished. Good VF, dark brown patina.
While the letter combinations on provincial reverses usually indicate the local civic year (CY) date of issue, those of Gabala are a matter of some controversy, especially those examples, like our coin, containing two sets of “numbers.” Based on a specimen in the British Museum of a bronze coin for the city struck under Augustus, Wroth postulated that the CY was reckoned from either 47 BC (the Caesarian Era) or AD 12. The latter is certainly impossible, as more recent examples of Trajan have come to light with dates far too high for this late era (cf. SNG München 828-9). The present coin likewise discounts the earlier date, but for the opposite reasons; the coin would have been issued before Trajan came to power. There are two possible dates on this coin, HPK(=128) and GMR(=143). These dates, based on the Caesarian Era, would place this coin as an issue of AD 81 or 96. Certainly not a possibility. A plausible alternative is that the CY was actually reckoned from the Battle of Actium, 31 BC, which is an era used on many provincial coins. Based on the Actian Era, the date of issue of this coin would be either AD 98 or AD 112/3. The portraits of Trajan, even in most of the provincial issues, are very consistent with his depiction on the issues of Rome. Thus, the youthful portrait on this coin strongly suggests that the earlier date is the correct one. The Actian Era is also consistent with the other known dates of Trajan's issues at Gabala, and also possible for the dated issues of Augustus. This dating does, however, change the attribution of some of the issues RPC tentatively ascribed to the emperors Caligula through Nero. As there are no names on these early issues, their attribution has been based on the Caesarian Era. Nonetheless, the coins' portraits are rather generic, and other than indicating a Julio-Claudian emperor, they are not dispositive of our suggested dating to the Actian Era.