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Coin of the Month

January 2024: A large bronze coin from Serdica

The Coin of this Month is presented by Bartosz Awianowicz


During the period of Caracalla's sole reign (212-217 AD), production of large bronze denominations, which were not inferior in weight and above all in minting quality to the sestertii from the mint at Rome, was significantly increased at the Serdika (today Sofia) mint. The type presented here as a coin of January 2024 is, however, remarkable for both its portrait on the obverse and the rare frontal and semi-nude depiction of the city's Tyche on the reverse.

The laureate bust of Caracalla looking left, wearing cuirass and paludamentum, holding shield and spear is found on the obverses of other CN base coins minted in Thrace: in Augusta Thraiana, Hadrianopolis, Nicopolis ad Mestum, Plotinopolis, and several other types from Serdika. This particular piece, however, is distinguished by the care taken in the stamping, which makes the image of Caracalla on the bronze coin resemble that of one of the famous gold medallions found in 1902 in Aboukir, Egypt: https://art.thewalters.org/detail/3501/medallion-with-roman-emperor-caracalla.

The obverse legend, which emphasises the emperor's affiliation to the House of Severus (abbreviated SEV), on the other hand, is a feature very typical for Thrace - see https://edition-topoi.org/download_pdf/bsa_077_00-1.pdf (see chapter 23 by Bartosz Awianowicz: Some Aspects of the Greek Legends of the Coins Minted in Thrace and Lower Moesia under Caracalla and Geta, 464-469).

Unusual for Thrace, on the other hand, is the representation of the turreted city goddess (Tyche or Homonoia?) standing facing, holding patera in the right hand and cornucopia in the left hand on the reverse. The closest analogues for this iconography are the coins stuck under Marcus Aurelius (161-180 AD) in the province of Achaia: in Megara (RPC IV.1, 3527 (temporary)) and Corinth (RPC IV.1, 7880 (temporary)).



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