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Research Coins: Feature Auction


Sun in Leo

Triton XXII, Lot: 770. Estimate $1000.
Sold for $1000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

EGYPT, Alexandria. Antoninus Pius. AD 138-161. Æ Drachm (33.5mm, 26.77 g, 12h). Zodiac series. Dated RY 8 (AD 144/5). AVT K T AIΛ A∆P AN[TωNЄINOC CЄB] ЄVC, laureate head right / Sun in Leo: Lion leaping right; above, radiate and draped bust of Helios (Sun) and eight-rayed star; [L] H (date) below. Köln 1495-6; Dattari (Savio) 2968; K&G 35.278; Emmet 1530.8. Good VF, attractive green patina with brown highlights.

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.