one or two exceptions, the coin motifs treated in this chapter will
be those representing the fruits of man's labor. At the one extreme,
we will have massive temple pylons and a vast lighthouse, while
at the other will appear simple corn baskets and wreaths. These
reverse types are not confined to any one or two denominations,
but will be commonly found on coins of all sizes and values.
XXXIV, in its first three illustrations, features varying
representations of altars. The first coin reverse depicts a flaming
altar, as it appears on a memorial tetradrachm of Carus. This was
struck posthumously by his sons, in connection with the consecration
of "Divus Carus," and was the only such memorial coin issued throughout
the history of the Alexandrian mint during Roman times. The basic
motif is borrowed from the regular imperial coinage. The two following
drachma reverses show varying "altar of Caesareum" types. The first
is an unpublished variety by Faustina, Jr., which depicts the altar
with four columns, between which is a standing figure. This is a
not uncommon form for the altar, although several of the minor details
differ from other specimens. The drachma of Pius shows an altar
with six columns, and omits the standing figure. Other common varieties
(not illustrated here) may show a six column altar with a standing
figure or a four-column altar without. There are so many variations
in the representations of this type, that it is uncertain whether
or not such an altar actually existed.
remaining three illustrations of Plate
XXXIV are of galleys. The first, from a drachma of Trajan,
shows a divine barge bearing the seated figure of Sarapis. Isis
Pharia stands before him, holding a bellying sail, while Demeter
stands immediately behind him. It was customary in Egypt, from earliest
dynastic times, to place actual images of the gods upon barks of
various types, for religious processions and special ceremonies.
The two remaining galley types are from tetradrachms. The coin of
Nero shows a galley under sail. The accompanying inscription suggests
that it was issued in expectation of a voyage to Egypt by the emperor.
The type of Commodus depicts a galley sailing past the Pharos of
Alexandria. Although historical confirmation is lacking, its purpose
may also have been to mark a projected imperial visit.
find on Plate
XXXV a group of buildings. The first illustration, from
a half-drachma of Hadrian, is of the Pharos of Alexandria. This
lighthouse, on a small island at the outer edge of the harbor, has
been considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The
coins appear to portray it accurately and consistently. (Compare
details of the Pharos as it appears on the present coin with its
appearance on the tetradrachm of Commodus on Plate
XXXIV). This famous lighthouse was a favorite reverse type
on half-drachmas, from Domitian to Marcus Aurelius.
temple of Tyche, as represented on a drachma of Pius, gives a general
impression of the many temples of divinities that occur on the bronze
drachmas. Little would be gained by an attempt to depict the many
minor varieties of such buildings, since all are merely conventionalized
versions of a general type, rather than actual representations of
specific structures. All varieties depict the temples in the Greek
form, either distyle or tetrastyle. The statue of the god or goddess
within is usually shown standing or seated. Used as early as Domitian,
the temple types become quite popular under the adoptive emperors,
but disappear midway in the reign of Marcus Aurelius. The temple
of Tyche has been presented here as the sole example because of
the unusual interest that is attached to the honoring of a personification
with a temple.
The two drachmas in the center part of Plate
XXXV, both of Hadrian, illustrate purely Egyptian architecture.
The massive pylon was the standard entrance or gateway to almost
all Egyptian temples. Two varieties are shown here, both of which
may represent actual temple fronts. The first is a very rare variety.
It depicts a narrow central doorway flanked on either side by pairs
of flag-staff holders, above which are single apertures, somewhat
larger at the bottom than at the top. A statue of Isis, with scepter
in left hand, rests above the doorway, and a garland hangs from
its base. The second coin, an unpublished variety, shows a pylon
with a much broader doorway, with pairs of apertures above the flag-staff
holders, and with the scepter in Isis' right hand.
XXXV is completed by representations of the temple of Mars
Ultor and an arch of triumph. The first of these types is found
only on bronze 80 drachma coins of Augustus, and was probably copied
from some of his Asiatic issues. The 80 drachmas denomination was
found only during the earlier years of Augustus, and was soon replaced
by the diobol. The arch of triumph pictured here is from a very
rare tetradrachm of Domitian. It appears again, from time to time,
on the coinage of Trajan and on a few pieces of Hadrian, but is
never common. There does not seem to have been any actual arch in
Alexandria to which the type referred.
top row of Plate
XXXVI is composed of tetradrachm reverses that portray two
common wreath types. The billon coin of Marcus Aurelius depicts
a laurel wreath enclosing the date LI (year 10). This type is fairly
common for tetradrachms of Marcus Aurelius, Aurelian, and Diocletian.
The illustrated coin of Gallienus shows a similar laurel wreath,
which in this case encloses an inscription. This arrangement occurs
originally in the time of Augustus, and is found sporadically thereafter
to the time of Diocletian.
remaining types of Plate
XXXVI depict varying representations of a modius. The obol
of Hadrian shows the modius between two torches. This type is frequently
encountered on obols from the reign of Augustus to that of Pius.
A drachma of Trajan places the modius on a column, which is supported
by two serpents. A somewhat similar type occurs on drachmas of Hadrian,
but specimens of both emperors are quite scarce. Two additional
drachmas of Trajan, forming the bottom row of the plate, give arrangements
of unusual interest. The first type shows the modius upon a cart
drawn by two oxen. A priest ( ? ) acts as driver, and may be seen
just behind the animals. This coin is unpublished, and seems to
be the only representation of a modius known for Trajan's twelfth
year. The second type depicts the modius in a quadriga, with a driver
to the front of the vehicle, and an attendant at the rear, who appears
to be steadying the sacred object.
XXXVII illustrates a miscellaneous group of artifacts and
inanimate objects. Two types of crowns are shown as they appear
on the tiny dichalka. The crown of Isis, composed of plumes, disk
and horns, is from the reverse of a coin of Hadrian, as is the Hemhem
crown of Harpokrates. These crowns appear on the scarce dichalka
of Trajan and Hadrian only, except for a few known instances of
the Isis crown on coins of the same denomination attributed to Augustus
and to Domitian.
next illustration is of a caduceus between corn ears, as the type
occurs on a diobol of Claudius. The caduceus first appears on diobols
of Claudius and Nero, but then disappears till Hadrian's reign,
at which time it was revived by him and his two successors. A few
obols of Claudius show a hand holding a caduceus, and scarce dichalka
of Trajan and Hadrian depict an upright caduceus.
next find an obol of Claudius which features a hand holding corn
ears and poppies. This type is found only on obols of Claudius,
although a very rare obol issue of Hadrian shows two hands grasping
what may be corn ears.
the bottom row, we encounter an obol of Hadrian which depicts two
cornucopias in saltire. Cornucopias were introduced by Augustus
on diobols, obols and dichalka, but then disappear from the coinage
except for obols of Hadrian and for a few scattered dichalka.
final type of Plate
XXXVII depicts a trophy, with two bound captives seated
at its foot, as depicted on a tetradrachm of Severus Alexander.
A trophy first appears on coins of Trajan, if one excepts an issue
of rare dichalka of Nero, and persists through the reign of Gallienus.
Many variations occur in the number and type of arms which compose
the trophy, as well as in the number and arrangement of captives,
when represented. It is difficult to identify the specific victories
to which the trophies may pertain, except for an issue of Marcus
Aurelius, which bears the Greek legend for "Armenia."