Coin of the Month

October 2018: Philippopolis

The Coin of this Month is presented by Ulrike Peter

Dear CNT-community, as many of you already know we started in the middle of 2017 with our second funding period dedicated to defining the types of the Thracian coins. In 2018 to this purpose we are going to extend our database which will then include also the coin types. In our new Type of the Month section we want to present some of our ongoing work.

The type of the month for October is represented by a coin from the coin collection in Munich, Germany. It is a bronze issue of Philippopolis in central Thrace. As the reverse legend tells us the city was the Thracian metropolis. It is attested by inscriptions that Philippopolis probably received this epithet already in the first century AD under the Flavians although on the coins this honorary title is known only from Septimius Severus onwards. The other part of the reverse legend refers to another honorary title “neokoros”. Philippopolis got the right to call itself “neokoros” under Elagabalus and we see this emperor depicted on the obverse. The laureate bust of Elagabalus is shown in a military attitude. He is wearing a cuirass and a paludamentum and is holding a spear in his right hand and a shield on his left shoulder. The reverse presents an athlete who was honored with a palm branch and a wreath as indications of having won in a competition. The temple of the main deity in Philippopolis, Apollon Kendrisos, became the cult temple of the emperor Elagabalus that means the temple of the neokoros. Elagabalus and Apollo were both worshipped in the existing temple. In addition to the neokorate also games were established in honor of the Emperor. These games, organized according to Pythian rules, received the epithet Kendreiseia. The coin is an example that benefactions of an emperor were always commemorated in the coinage. The cities – here Philippopolis – were proud of these privileges and used them for their self-presentation and in their competition with other poleis.

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