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831537. Sold For $695

SPAIN, Ilercavonia-Dertosa. Tiberius. AD 14-37. Æ As (24mm, 7.58 g, 11h). Laureate head right / Corbita under sail left; countermark of grain ear in rectangular incuse. For coin: RPC I 207; SNG Copenhagen 532-3; for countermark: cf. Howgego 407. VF, brown patina, areas of flatness on obverse resulting from the application of the countermark.

Providing the empire with an uninterrupted supply of grain, as well as other necessary supplies, the merchantman (Greek ναυς στρογγυλη; Latin navis oneraria) was a ship with a broad beam. Many of these vessels, like the ponto or more common actuaria resembled the shape of a trireme and could be powered by both oars and sails. Since ships of this type were used to transport vital commodities such as wine and grain, they, like the large ponto, are often those shown on coins from the Black Sea. The great Roman merchantman, or corbita, often seen in part on imperial issues commemorating the annona, is more familiar. Powered by two large sails, it featured a rear cabin in the shape of a swan and was the true workhorse of Roman merchant vessels; its type continued well into the Byzantine period.