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Exceptional Rendering of Serapis-Pantheos

Sale: CNG 78, Lot: 1509. Estimate $3000. 
Closing Date: Wednesday, 14 May 2008. 
Sold For $2500. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

EGYPT, Alexandria. Antoninus Pius. AD 138-161. Æ Drachm (35mm, 31.41 g, 12h). Dated RY 5 (AD 141/2). Laureate head right / Radiate and draped bust of Serapis-Pantheos right, wearing calathus and horn of Ammon; dolphin-entwined trident to right, date across field. Cf. Köln 1412; Dattari 2867 (same dies); Emmett 1676.5. Good VF, brown patina. Rare.

Serapis was a syncretic god, combining Hellenistic Greek and Egyptian religious beliefs. His name is of Egyptian origin and derives from a synthesis of Ausar (Greek, Osiris), the Egyptian god of the Underworld, and Hapi (Greek, Apis), a manifestation of the god Ptah. Under the Ptolemies, Serapis became the chief tutelary god and the subject of a royally-sponsored cult, whose emphasis on an afterlife made the worship of Serapis one of the more popular mystery cults. His immense popularity soon extended his creation as Serapis-Pantheos, a hybrid deity incorporating other divine elements. In Alexandria a large temple complex, called the Serapeum was constructed and remained highly patronized well into the fourth century AD. Shortly after the imperial decree of AD 391, officially declaring pagan temples closed, the Serapeum was besieged, plundered and destroyed.