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The Usurper Jotapian

451, Lot: 385. Estimate $3000.
Sold for $4250. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Jotapian. Usurper, circa AD 248-249. Antoninianus (23.5mm, 3.46 g, 12h). Nicopolis in Seleucia mint. IM C M F R IOTAPIANVS A, radiate and cuirassed bust right / VICT OR I A AV G, Victory, winged, draped, advancing left, holding wreath in right hand and palm frond in left. RIC IV 2a; Bland – (unlisted dies); RSC 1a. Toned, roughness and porosity, metal flaw on reverse. Fine. Extremely rare.

Jotapian led a short-lived revolt in Syria in the autumn of AD 249 while Philip I was still emperor. Little is known of Jotapian’s background. It was said that he boasted of a relationship to Severus Alexander, and his unusual name, although otherwise unknown for a man, is attested in its feminine form "Jotape" in the royal houses of Commagene and Emesa. The extreme rarity of his coins indicates that the revolt was brief, and the crude style proves that the revolt was geographically confined, for Jotapian plainly did not control a major Roman mint. His head was brought to Rome and shown to Trajan Decius "as was customary, although Decius had not asked for it" (Aur. Vict., Caes. 29.4).