E-Auction 47 Aftersale Lot 114

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Emesa mint

E-Auction 47 Aftersale Lot 114

Septimius Severus. A.D. 193-211. AR denarius. 2.44 gm. 17 mm. Emesa mint. Struck A.D. 194. His laureate head right; IMP CAE L SEP SEV PERT AVG COS II / Victory advancing left, holding wreath and palm; VICT AVG. RIC IV.1 424. RSC 675a. As struck; hoard cleaned; bright; some weakness and surface damage; sharp strike; exciting style reflective of campaigning on the frontier.

Emesa was a caravan city in northwestern Syria, the hometown of Julia Domna, wife of Septimius Severus. Her family connected them to the priestly ruling caste of that city, greatly benefitting the Severan dynasty. Unlike many cities in the East, Emesa remained loyal to Severus during the destructive civil war with Pescennius Niger, who was governor of Roman Syria before being acclaimed by his soldiers as Augustus in AD 193. Severus sent his armies eastward and engaged Niger in a series of battles starting in the fall of AD 193, culminating with a decisive victory at Issus in May of AD 194. Niger was hunted down and killed. Severus and Julia Domna then undertook a triumphant tour of the eastern cities, probably arriving in Emesa in mid-194.

During Severus’ eastern campaigns, mint strictures were loosened, allowing local moneyers, who would earlier have been considered counterfeiters, to take up the slack for the limited material coming from official mints. This coin, minted in 194 during his eastern campaigns, appears to be such an example, with its marvelously eastern portraiture and style, and clearly exemplifying the vigorous and spontaneous somewhat slipshod style strike reflective of campaigning on the frontier.

After defeating Pescennius Niger and Clodius Albinus and becoming emperor, Severus — arguably the consummate soldier-emperor — adopted a military style government and paid little attention to the Senate. During his rule he fought in almost every part of the Roman Empire, from England to Syria.


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