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Research Coins: Feature Auction

 
88000851
CNG 88, Lot: 851. Estimate $150.
Sold for $90. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

BITHYNIA, Nicaea. Caracalla. AD 198-217. Æ (23mm, 6.03 g, 1h). M • AVPH • ANTΩNINOC • AVΓOVC, laureate head right / NI to left, KA/I to right, EΩN in exergue, hexastyle temple façade set on three-tiered base; globe in pediment. Weiser, Nikaia -; cf. RG 476; SNG von Aulock -; Gorny & Mosch 117, 389 (Elagabalus; same dies). Good VF, green patina, spot of hard green on obverse.


From Group CEM.

Apart from those later provincial portraits which can be securely attributed to Caracalla, his youthful provincial portraits can sometimes erroneously be attributed to his successor Elagabalus. This confusion is due to the fact that Elagabalus, like Caracalla, was a teenager while Augustus, and Elagabalus sought to link himself directly to the Severan dynasty as well as Caracalla, who was rumored to be his biological father. Born Varius Avitus Bassianus, Elagabalus changed his name to Marcus Aurelius Antoninus – also the name of Caracalla – when he ascended the throne at 14 in AD 218. Later, and like Caracalla before him, Elagabalus adopted the surname Pius. Elagabalus, however, only reigned a short time, being assassinated in early AD 218 at the age of 18. Apart from the incorporation of the "horn" into the portrait which occurs only for Elagabalus, certain significant stylistic consistencies in the portraits of Caracalla and Elagabalus appear in the imperial coinage. The youthful portrait of Caracalla possesses a well-proportioned head set on a long neck, while that of Elagabalus shows a large head on a shorter neck. Similar stylistic consistencies appear in the issues of the major provincial mints. Bithynia was an important crossroads, both for trade and military deployment, and occasionally some of the area's cities and towns would have received official visits from Caracalla at different times in his career as he passed through to the East, or was returning to Rome. The head is well-proportioned and set on a long neck - the portrait is of Caracalla. For a more detailed treatment on this subject, see Ann Johnston, “Caracalla or Elagabalus? A Case of Unnecessarily Mistaken Identity,” in ANSMN 27 (1982), pp. 97-147.