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Research Coins: Feature Auction

 
89001416

Highly Intriguing Issue

Triton XV, Lot: 1416. Estimate $10000.
Sold for $7500. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

LYCAONIA, Iconium. Gordian III. AD 238-244. Æ (33mm, 17.72 g, 6h). Struck 243-244. IMP CAES M AT GORDIANVS AVG, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right / COL AEL HA DRICONIESI (S retrograde), palm tree; to left, female figure seated left on round shield, in attitude of mourning; to right, bound captive standing right, leaning against tree; harpa below; S R across field. Unpublished. VF, light dusty green patina, with some earthen encrustation. An extremely interesting type reminiscent of the ‘Judaea Capta’ series under the Flavians. Unique.


Ex Numismatica Ars Classica 59 (4 April 2011), lot 1104.

The details of this remarkable coin reveal layers of Iconium’s history: the harpa on the reverse alludes to Perseus, the ktistes (founder) of Iconium (from the image [εἰκών in Greek] of the Gorgon with which Perseus was able to conquer the Lycaonians); the reverse legend records the refoundation of the city as Colonia Aelia Hadriana Augusta Iconensium (colonial status was first granted under Augustus); the presence of the S R (Senatus Romae) reveals some control of the Senate over the right to strike coinage (first appearing on large module issues of Pisidian Antioch under Septimius Severus). The reverse design, however, is the most striking feature. Here we see a scene clearly derived from the Judaea Capta series of Vespasian. How can the presence of such an antiquated design be explained? A unique coin of Iconium under Vespasian now in the British Museum may provide the answer: the reverse legend reads COL ICONIEN EQ, and the authors of RPC II suggest the possibility that the last part of the legend stands for Eligione Quinta deducta, pointing to the settling of members of a “fifth legion” at Iconium (p. 232 and no. 1610). Exactly which “fifth legion” is not stated, but one in particular (Legio V Macedonia) was a significant force during the Jewish War and participated in the sacking of Jerusalem. Could this coin thus be referring to the military exploits of settlers from the Legio V Macedonia some 170 years earlier? The theory rests heavily on the above stated interpretation of the EQ on the coin of Vespasian, which is only one possibility, but it is puzzling to think what other circumstances would lead civic authorities to revisit such a highly specific and recognizable design from Rome’s numismatic past.