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Research Coins: Feature Auction

 
11100546
CNG 111, Lot: 546. Estimate $1000.
Sold for $1900. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

SELEUCIS and PIERIA, Emesa. Uranius Antoninus. Usurper, AD 253-254. BI Tetradrachm (26mm, 10.79 g, 12h). Radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right / Eagle standing facing, head and tail right, with wings spread, holding wreath in beak; S C below wings; ЄMICA in exergue. Baldus – (dies III/2 [unlisted die combination]); Prieur 1030 = Kovacs FPL 25 (June 1986), no. 145; RPC IX 1876/1 (this coin cited and illustrated). VF, dark brown surfaces with traces of green, minor encrustation. Extremely rare, only one known to Prieur, and one, this coin, in CoinArchives.


From the Michel Prieur Collection. Ex Classical Numismatic Group 93 (22 May 2013), lot 971.


The little that is known about the usurper Uranius Antoninus comes entirely from his coinage. He came to power in the East in 253 AD during a period of great crisis and upheaval for the Roman Empire. At this time, the Sasanian king Shapur I made many incursions into Roman territory, even capturing the great city of Antioch, apparently just to show that he could: his armies burned and pillaged the communities in their path and took people and plunder back to their own territory. It may be that Uranius Antoninus came to power in order to defend his community from attack rather than out of any anti-Roman antipathy. He issued coins from the mint at Emesa, some of which feature the sacred stone of El-Gabal, which might indicate that Uranius was part of the Emesene royal family of priest-kings. The coins are dated in accordance with the Seleucid dating system, which is reflective of the region’s historical status as part of the Seleucid Empire. As with many usurpers, Uranius Antoninus’ reign did not last long, and he fell from power before Valerian I came eastwards in AD 254.