Numismatica Ars Classica, Zurich   |   Auction 105   |   9 May 2018 Sort by Lot-NumberSort by Estimate
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Lot 62

Estimate: 35'000 CHF   |   Starting price: 28'000 CHF Price realized: 50'000 CHF
Caracalla, 198 – 217. Aureus 201-206, AV 7.25 g. ANTONINVS – PIVS AVG Laureate, draped and cuirassed bust r. Rev. INDVLGENTIA AVGG / IN CARTH Dea Caelestis, wearing elaborate headdress and holding drum in r. hand and sceptre in l., seated facing on lion leaping r. over a stream of water flowing from rocks l. C 96. BMC 279. RIC 131b. Calicó 2679 (this obverse die).
Very rare. A superb portrait of masterly style struck in high relief and a very
interesting reverse composition. Good extremely fine


Jacob Hirsch (1874-1955) Collection, sold by Hess-Leu, Lucerne, auction 3, 27 March 1956, lot 400, to Jean Vinchon (1918-2003).

Sold by Leu Numismatik, Zürich, auction 91, 10-11 May 2004, lot 605.

Sold Numismatica Genevensis SA, Geneva, auction 4, 11 December 2006, lot 201.

This interesting type, INDVLGENTIA AVGG IN CARTH (‘the indulgence of the Augusti towards Carthage’), suggests Septimius Severus and Caracalla made improvements to Carthage, the North African capital to the west of the imperial family’s native Tripolitana. The evidence is slim, but it seems the imperial family and its entourage crossed to Africa in 202, a few months after they had returned to Rome from a five-year absence in the East. The family apparently wintered in Lepcis Magna, Severus’ home town (which he may not have visited for about thirty years) and they returned to Rome in the following year. In addition to touring the region and overseeing building projects, the Severan entourage was in North Africa to deal with military matters, including a campaign against the tribes who raided Roman provinces from the deserts to the south and east. The reverse depicts a towered goddess sitting upon a lion that springs from a rocky outcrop from which water flows. This latter feature has led to the suggestion that aqueducts or waterworks of some kind in Carthage were constructed or repaired at state expense. A similar scene appears on imperial coins struck by Commodus in 191/2, and earlier still on rare imperial bronzes of Faustina Senior, though in both cases without the rocks and flowing water. The goddess riding the lion is Cybele (Mater Deum; ‘mother of the Gods’) or Dea Caelestis (‘celestial goddess’), essentially the Roman identification of Tanit (the patron goddess of Carthage), who may be more precisely understood as a moon-goddess, who the Romans equated with Juno Caelestis or Cybele. On this aureus she holds a scepter and a thunderbolt, though on some other coins from the series she holds a scepter and a musical instrument that is a tympanum (a small drum or tambourine) or a crotalum (castanets or cymbals). Curiously, more than a decade later Elagabalus chose to marry his Emesan sun-god Heliogabalus to the Carthaginian moon-goddess Dea Caelestis, thus uniting sun and moon deities and symbolically linking the Syrian and North African ancestries of the Severan dynasty.

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