CNG Bidding Platform


Products and Services

Research Coins: Feature Auction


Sarapis – A Syncretic God

Triton XXI, Lot: 120. Estimate $5000.
Sold for $4000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

EGYPT, Alexandria. Antoninus Pius. AD 138-161. Æ Drachm (34mm, 23.08 g, 12h). Dated RY 5 (AD 141/142). AVT K T AIΛ A∆P ANTωNINOC [ЄV]CЄB, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right / Radiate and draped bust of Sarapis-Pantheos right, wearing kalathos and horn of Ammon; before, trident of Poseidon entwined with serpent of Asklepios; L Є (date) across field. Köln 1412 (same dies); Dattari (Savio) 8725 (this coin); K&G 35.163; Emmett 1676.5; Staffieri, Alexandria In Nummis 119 (this coin). Good VF, attractive tan and dark brown surfaces. Very rare. An exceptional Alexandrian type.

From the Giovanni Maria Staffieri Collection, purchased from Dr. Piero Beretta, Milan, October 1972. Ex Dr. Piero Beretta Collection (Milan); Giovanni Dattari Collection, no. 8725.

Sarapis 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, Sarapis became the chief tutelary god and the subject of a royally-sponsored cult, whose emphasis on an afterlife made the worship of Sarapis one of the more popular mystery cults. His immense popularity soon extended to his creation as Sarapis-Pantheos, a hybrid deity incorporating other divine elements. In the case of the present specimen from the Staffieri collection, he is depicted with the radiate crown of Helios, his own kalathos, the ram’s horn of Ammon, and the trident of Poseidon entwined with the serpent of Asklepios. 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.