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Rare Zodiac Drachm of Antoninus Pius

461680. Sold For $4950

EGYPT, Alexandria. Antoninus Pius. AD 138-161. Æ Drachm (34mm, 20.64 g, 1h). Zodiac series. Dated RY 8 (AD 144/145). AVT K T AIΛ A∆P ANTωNINOC CЄB ЄVC, laureate head right / Jupiter in Sagittarius: Centaur galloping right, drawing bow and arrow; above centaur, bust of Jupiter (Zeus) right with slight drapery; L H (date) below. Köln 1502 var. (obv. legend and star above centaur’s head); Dattari (Savio) 2974 var. (star above centaur’s head); K&G 35.262 var. (same); Emmett 1693.8. Good VF, attractive reddish-brown patina with touches of green. Rare. One of the finest known examples for the type. The star that usually appears on the reverse above the centaur’s head (indicating that this type represents the constellation) appears to have been left off of this die by the celator.

Alexandria saw an immense output of coinage during the eighth year of Antoninus Pius’s reign. The Zodiac drachms, mythological types, and a host of issues for the nomes appeared that year. One explanation for this activity centers on the celebration of the renewal of the Great Sothic cycle, the point when the star Sothis (Sirius) rises on the same point on the horizon as the sun. This cycle of 1461 years began early in the reign of Pius in AD 139, and apparently prompted a renewal in the ancient Egyptian religion, while the coin types also stressed the connections to the Greco-Roman Pantheon.