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Research Coins: Feature Auction

Sale: CNG 66, Lot: 1436. Estimate $15000. 
Closing Date: Wednesday, 19 May 2004. 
Sold For $16500. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

TRAJAN. 98-117 AD. Æ Sestertius (27.91 gm). Struck 116-117 AD. IMP CAES NER TRAIANO OPTIMO AVG GER DAC PARTHICO P M TR P COS VI P P, laureate and draped bust right / ARMENIA ET MESOPOTAMIA IN POTESTATEM P R REDACTAE, S C across field, Trajan, laureate and in miltary outfit, standing facing, head right, holding reversed spear and parazonium; Mesopotamia seated left at feet, in attitude of mourning; to left and right, Tigris and Euphrates seated, vis à vis, each leaning on inverted urn from which water flows, and holding reed. RIC II 642; BMCRE 1033; Cohen 39. EF, beautiful brown and olive-green patina. Superb detail. Probably the finest specimen known. ($15,000)

Beginning in 114 AD, Trajan began his campaign against Parthia. The immediate cause of the war was the situation in Armenia, a strategic and semi-independent kingdom which acted as an important buffer between the two empires. Parthia's deposition of the pro-Roman king of Armenia with one that was pro-Parthian upset the tenuous balance and thereby threatened Syria's wealthy cities. Trajan's campaign againt Armenia was swift and decisive; by 115 AD, Armenia had been absorbed as a Roman province. To secure the eastern frontier, he then moved southward through Mesopotamia, capturing the Parthian capital, Ctesiphon, in 116 AD, bringing the "Cradle of Civilization" under Roman control. The reverse type on this coin is a direct allusion to Trajan's conquering of Mesopotamia, and is also interesting in that its personifications correspond to the actual geography of the region.