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Research Coins: Feature Auction


Caracalla’s Visit to Pergamum

CNG 91, Lot: 517. Estimate $2000.
Sold for $2200. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

MYSIA, Pergamum. Caracalla. AD 198-217. Æ Medallion (43mm, 40.23 g, 6h). Marcus Caerelius Attalus, strategus. Laureate and cuirassed bust right, slight drapery; gorgoneion on breastplate; c/m: wreath with pellet in center, all within incuse / Є ΠI C TP • M • KAIPЄΛ ATTAΛOV, Π-Є-P ΓA/MH/NΩ(N) across field, ΠPΩTΩN • Γ • N[Є]/ΩKOPΩN in two lines in exergue, the imperial entrance (adventus) into the city of Pergamum: emperor, wearing military attire, on horseback right, turning to left and raising right arm, being trailed by attendant; to right, cippus surmounted by statue of Asclepius. W. Wroth, “Asklepios and the coins of Pergamum,” NC (1882), pl. 3, 5 var.; von Fritze, Pergamon pl. VII, 14 var.; BMC 321 var.; SNG France 2231-2 var. (all with varying distribution of rev. legend); for c/m: Howgego 480. VF, dark green patina, traces of smoothing.

This medallion is part of a highly interesting series that has long fascinated numismatists. Taken as a whole, the group chronicles the major events of Caracalla’s visit to Pergamum en route to an eastern military expedition in AD 214. While this was only one stop on a trip that included imperial visits to the major cities and religious sites of Asia Minor, Pergamum’s sanctuary of Asclepius (the Asclepion) was of particular appeal to Caracalla, whose health declined precipitously in the latter years of his reign. On other medallions from the series we see either Tyche (personification of the city) or a leading magistrate presenting the emperor with a miniature cult image of Asclepius upon his arrival, Caracalla visiting the sacred grove adjacent to the Asclepion, and various scenes of sacrifices being offered to Asclepius.