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“The Reaper” col pileo

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Si tratta di una delle due tipologie di bronzi di Antonino Pio coniati dalla zecca di Alessandria d’Egitto nel 141-142 d.C. (anno regnale 5 di Pio), raffigurante il mietitore che indossa un pileo e una pelle di capra sulla spalla. L'altra varietà raffigura il mietitore senza queste caratteristiche e leggermente ingobbito mentre taglia le spighe di grano (CNG 76 [2007], lotto 1147 e CNG Inventory no. 253505).

Entrambi i bronzi testimoniano l'importanza dell'Egitto come granaio dell'impero.


The Reaper

EGYPT, Alexandria. Antoninus Pius. AD 138-161. Æ Drachm (35mm, 28.45 g, 12h). Dated RY 5 (AD 141/142). [AYT K T A]IΛ A∆P ANTωNINO[C CЄB ЄYC], laureate head right / Bearded man (Reaper) standing right, wearing short kirtle (tunic), pileos, and goat’s skin(?) over his left shoulder, with his right hand he cuts three grain stalks with a sickle, holding them with his left; [L] Є to left. Köln 1417 var. (reaper not wearing pileos, goat’s skin, and slightly hunched over); Dattari (Savio) 2989 (this coin – reverse illustrated on pl. XXVI); K&G 35.165 (this coin illustrated); Emmett 1643.5; Staffieri, Alexandria In Nummis 136 (this coin). Good VF, attractive dark brown patina with touches of green. Extremely rare and exceptional.

From the Giovanni Maria Staffieri Collection. Ex Kerry K. Wetterstrom Collection (Classical Numismatic Auctions XIII, 4 December 1990), lot 221; Dr. Meyer-Coloniensis Colllection (Münz Zentrum 64, 15 April 1988), lot 273; Giovanni Dattari Collection, no. 2989.

There are two varieties for this type – one depicting the reaper wearing a pileos and goat’s skin over his shoulder, and the other without these features and slightly hunched over as he cuts the grain ears. While both varieties are rare (we have handled two examples of the second type: CNG 76 [2007], lot 1147 and CNG Inventory no. 253505), the first type is definitely the rarer of the two.

This type and the so-called “Ploughman” type (see CNG 85, lot 714) are usually included in the Alexandrian mythological and pictorial coin series. Although they are not mythological in derivation, they may represent their respective constellations or seasons. Perhaps the common “Nilus reclining” types represent the inundation of the Nile, the most important “season” for the ancient Egyptians. This type is only known for Pius’ regnal year 5.


Triton XXI, Lot: 163. Estimate $7500. Sold for $8500. 



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Varietà del bronzo con il mietitore senza pileo (CNG Inventory no. 253505).


EGYPT, Alexandria. Antoninus Pius. 138-161 AD. Æ Drachm (23.60 gm). Dated year 5 (141/2 AD). AVT K T AIL ADP ANTWNEINOC EY CEB, laureate head right / "The Reaper" - bearded man standing right in a slightly crouched position, cutting three grain-stalks with a sickle; L E (date) across field. Köln 1417 var. (date placement); Dattari 2989 var. (same); Milne 1728b var. (same); Emmett 1643. Good VF, attractive brown patina. Extremely rare. The finest known.

This type and the so-called "Ploughman" type are usually included in the Alexandrian mythological and pictorial coin series. Although they are not mythological in derivation, they may represent their respective constellations or seasons. Perhaps the common "Nilus reclining' types represent the inundation of the Nile, the most important 'season' for the ancient Egyptians.

The Coin Shop 253505. Sold For $7500


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Altro tipo di bronzo dello stesso imperatore, zecca e data, che raffigura sul rovescio un aratore alla guida dei buoi (che però potrebbe rappresentare la costellazione Boote, una delle 48 elencate da Tolomeo) (CNG 85).


Constellation Boötes?

EGYPT, Alexandria. Antoninus Pius. AD 138-161. Æ Drachm (34mm, 25.12 g, 12h). Dated RY 5 (AD 141/2). Laureate head right / Plowman (constellation Boötes?) driving team of oxen left; RY date in exergue. Köln 1407 (same obv. die); Dattari (Savio) 2985 (same dies); BMC 1091 (rev. only illustrated; same die); K&G 35.153. Near VF, brown patina, minor flan split. Very rare type.

From Collection CR.

The Great Sothic Cycle was a calendrical cycle based on the heliacal rising in July of the star Sirius (known to the Greeks as Sothis) and lasting approximately 1460 years. According to ancient Egyptian mythology, in a Golden Age, the beginning of the flooding of the Nile coincided exactly with the rising of Sirius, which was reckoned as the New Year. Only once every 1460 years did Sirius rise at exactly the same time. Thus, the coincidence of this along with the concurrent beginning of the flooding of the Nile gave the event major cosmological significance by heralding not just the beginning of a new year, but the beginning of a new eon. This event also was thought to herald the appearance of the phoenix, a mythological bird which was reborn every 500 to 1000 years out of its own ashes. According to one version of the myth, each new phoenix embalmed its old ashes in an egg of myrrh which it then deposited in the Egyptian city of Heliopolis. So important was the advent of the new Great Sothic Cycle, both to the realignment of the heavens and its signaling of the annual flooding of the Nile, that the Egyptians celebrated it in a five-day festival which emphasized the important cosmological significance.

In the third year of the reign of Antoninus Pius (AD 139/40), a new Great Sothic Cycle began. To mark this event, the mint of Alexandria struck an extensive series of coinage, especially in large bronze drachms, each related in some astrological way to the reordering of the heavens during the advent of the new Great Sothic Cycle. By the time that these coins were issued, the Egyptian names for the various constellations had been replaced by those more familiar to the Greeks and Romans. Among the issues struck during this time was this very rare type depicting a plowsman and may refer to the constellation Boötes, the mythological figure who invented the plow. Since the appearance of Sirius heralded the beginning of the Nile’s flooding, which deposited a rich alluvial layer of mud on the fields, necessary for the growing of grain, the inclusion of the constellation associated with the originator of the plow would have made perfect sense, given the agricultural significance of the Great Sothic Cycle and the importance of Egypt in providing grain to the rest of the empire.

CNG 85, Lot: 714. Estimate $500. Sold for $1400.


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Bibliografia sul tema trovata in rete:

 BMC, J.G.  Milne,  Catalogue  of  Alexandrian  Coins,  University  of  Oxford,  Ashmolean  Museum  (Oxford  1933)  (with  Supplement  of  C.M.  Kraay, London 1971), K. Emmett, Alexandrian Coins (Lodi, Wisconsin 2001), et tou-jours, en général, J. Vogt, Die alexandrinischen Münzen. Grundlegung einer alexandri-nischen  Kaisergeschichte  I–II  (Stuttgart  1924).  Pour  la  documentation  numismatique,  cf. les collections/publications suivantes : BMC, Dattari, Dattari et A. Savio (éd.), Numi Augg.  Alexandrini,Catalogo  della  collezione  Dattari  (Trieste  2007),  Milne  (Oxford)  ;  A.  Geissen,  Katalog  Alexandrinischer  Kaisermünzen  der  Sammlung  des  Instituts  für  Altertumskunde  der  Universität  zu  Köln,  Abhandlungen  der  Rheinisch-Westfälischen  Akademie  der  Wissenschaften  V  (Opladen  1974–1983)  5  vols.  (=  Köln)  ;  CNA  XIII ; Emmett
L.  Lehr,  Beschreibung  und  Bedeutung  der  zwölf  Tierkreiszeichen  auf  den  Grossbronzen  von  Alexandria  unter  der  Regierung  des  Antoninus  Pius,  dans  :  Helvetische  Münzenzeitung  (Hilterfingen  1971)  3–16 ;  H.G.  Gundel,  Zodiakos.  Tierkreis-bilder  im  Altertum,  Kulturgeschichte  der  antiken  Welt  54  (Mainz  1992)  surtout  279  n°  254,  fig.  277.  A.  Geissen,  The  Nome  Coins  of  Roman  Egypt,  dans  :  C.  Howgego,  V.  Heuchert,  A.  Burnett  (eds.),  Coinage  and  Identity  in  the  Roman  Provinces,  Seven-teenth  Oxford  Symposium  on  Coinage  and  Monetary  History,  19.–22.  September  2002(Oxford  2005  ;  Paperback  2007)  167–170  ;  id.,  Altes  und  Neues.  Bemerkungen  zu  den  Gau-Prägungen  aus  dem  römischen  Alexandria,  dans  :  XIII  Congreso  Internacional  de  Numismática, Madrid  2003,  Actas  I  (Madrid  2005)  843–847  ;  A.  Geissen  und  M.  Weber,  Untersuchungen  zu  den  ägyptischen  Nomenprägungen  I–X  ,  ZPE  144  (2003)–164 (2008).3  Sauf de rares exceptions, p. ex. Trajan/Rapt de Perséphone, BMC 407 pl. II ; Geta Caesar/Antaios, BMC 1479 pl. VI.4  Pour des parallèles iconographiques aux types monétaires traités, voir les articles correspondants dans le LIMC.5  Vogt,  Münzen  I  123–125  ;  J.G.  Milne,  Pictorial  Coin-types  at  the  Roman  Mint  of  Alexandria,  JEA  29  (1943)  63–66  ;  id.,Pictorial  Coin-types  at  the  Roman  Mint  of  Alexandria  :  A  Supplement,  JEA  36  (1950)  83–85  ;  id.,  Pictorial  Coin-types  at  the  Roman  Mint  of  Alexandria  :  A  Second  Supplement,  JEA  37  (1951)  100–102  et  J.W.  Curtis,  Pictorial  Coin-types  at  the  Roman  Mint  of  Alexandria  :  A  Third  Supplement,  JEA 41 (1955) 119–120 ;H. Voegtli, Bilder der Heldenepen in der kaiserzeitlichen grie-chischen  Münzprägung  (Aesch 1977).

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