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CNG Feature Auction 117

Lot nuber 604

Zenobia. Usurper, AD 268-272. Antoninianus (20mm, 3.64 g, 5h). Antioch mint, 8th officina. 2nd emission, March-May AD 272.

CNG Feature Auction 117
Lot: 604.
 Estimated: $ 5 000

Roman Imperial, Coin-in-Hand Video, Silver

Sold For $ 4 750. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Go to Live

Zenobia. Usurper, AD 268-272. Antoninianus (20mm, 3.64 g, 5h). Antioch mint, 8th officina. 2nd emission, March-May AD 272. [S] ZЄNOBIA AVG, draped bust right, wearing stephane, set on crescent / IVNO RЄGINA, Juno standing left, holding patera in right hand and scepter in left; at feet to left, peacock standing left, head right; *|–//H. Cf. RIC V 2; RIC V Online 3129; Bland, Coinage 30 (dies – [unlisted obv. die]/Jun v); BN pl. 86, 289. Green patina, earthen encrustation, scratch on reverse. VF. Rare.

Although usually portrayed as an anti-Roman nativist uprising, the rebellion of the Palmyran Queen Zenobia was curiously compliant with Roman titles and governmental structures. Septimia Zenobia was the second wife of Odenathus, the hereditary nas (lord) of Palmyra, a wealthy caravan city in eastern Syria. As the Roman Empire crumbled under a torrent of calamities after AD 260, Odenathus undertook to defend Syria against the Sasanian Persians, ostensibly as viceroy of the Roman emperor Gallienus. Odenathus and his eldest son were assassinated in AD 267, after which Zenobia seized power as queen regent for their younger son, the 10-year-old Vabalathus. In late AD 270, Zenobia sent the Palmyran army to secure control of greater Syria and Egypt, bringing the mints of Antioch and Alexandria under her control. Coins were struck depicting Vabalathus, with the titles Vir Clarissimus, Rex, Imperator, Dux Romanorum, paired with the current Emperor Aurelian, who was styled Imperator Caesar Augustus. It is uncertain whether Aurelian ever granted the tacit recognition this coinage implies, but by AD 272 he had clearly decided to suppress the Palmyran regime. Zenobia reacted by having Vabalathus proclaimed Augustus and herself took the title of Augusta, or Empress. Zenobia appears on this antoninianus of Antioch with the same trappings as previous Roman empresses, a helmet-like coif of hair adorned with a simple headpiece called a stephane. The reverse depicts a Roman goddess, Junio Regina (”Queen Juno”), perhaps as an avatar for her own claimed authority. Even if she had beaten Aurelian, Zenobia would have likely ruled on the Roman model, using the well-entrenched bureaucracy already in place. As it happened, Aurelian’s forces rapidly reclaimed Zenobia’s conquests, defeated her army outside of Palmyra, and captured her as she attempted flight to Persia. Her coinage in Antioch only lasted two or three months at most, accounting for its rarity today.

The final winners of all CNG Feature Auction 117 lots will be determined during the live online sale that will be held on 19-20 May 2021. This lot is in Session 2, which begins 19 May 2021 at 2 PM ET.

Winning bids are subject to a 20% buyer's fee for bids placed on this website and 22.50% for all others.

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