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Research Coins: Electronic Auction

 
3540447

“Mars in Aries”

354, Lot: 447. Estimate $150.
Sold for $1300. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

EGYPT, Alexandria. Antoninus Pius. AD 138-161. Æ Drachm (34mm, 19.91 g, 11h). Zodiac series. Dated RY 8 (AD 144/5). Laureate head right / Mars in Aries: Ram leaping right, head left; above, helmeted, draped, and cuirassed bust of Mars right and eight-pointed star; L H (date) below. Cf. Köln 1498; cf. Dattari (Savio) 2958; K&G 35.267; Emmet 1461.8 (R3). Fine, brown patina with touches of green.


Alexandria saw an immense output of coinage during the eighth year of Antoninus Pius’s reign. The Zodiac drachms, mythological types, and a host of issues for the nomes appeared that year. One explanation for this activity centers on the celebration of the renewal of the Great Sothic cycle, the point when the star Sothis (Sirius) rises on the same point on the horizon as the sun. This cycle of 1461 years began early in the reign of Pius in AD 139, and apparently prompted a renewal in the ancient Egyptian religion, while the coin types also stressed the connections to the Greco-Roman Pantheon.