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Research Coins: Feature Auction

 
91000889

FISCVS IVDAICVS

CNG 91, Lot: 889. Estimate $4000.
Sold for $4250. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Nerva. AD 96-98. Æ Sestertius (33mm, 26.16 g, 6h). Rome mint. Struck AD 97. IMP NERVΛ CΛES ΛVG P M TR P COS III P P, laureate head right / FISCI IVDAICI CALVMNIA SVBLATA, palm tree; S C across field. RIC II 82; Banti 17. VF, dark green-brown patina, some roughness and smoothing.


Following his victory in Judaea, Vespasian levied a special poll tax known as the fiscus Iudaicus. Originally a tax of a half shekel (two drachms) which all Jewish men paid annually to the Temple in Jerusalem, it was expanded to include all Jews regardless of age within the Empire. The revenues generated thereby were deposited in the Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus in Rome, and doubled the humiliation of not only paying Rome for the privilege of worship, but also seeing former Temple monies fill pagan coffers. Nonetheless, this tax provided a much-needed source of revenue for the Flavians. Domitian's strident enforcement of the tax led many Jews to conceal their identity to avoid payment; in turn, the emperor vigorously and publicly pursued potential dodgers. The historian Suetonius records one episode in which an old man was stripped naked to determine whether or not he was circumcised and therefore Jewish. To alleviate the burdens imposed by this tax, Nerva wiped out its abuses and relaxed its collection only to those, as Dio Cassius reported, who continued to follow their ancestral customs.