ROMAN EMPIRE, Vabalathus, 270 AD, antoninianius


ROMAN EMPIRE, Vabalathus, 270 AD, antoninianius, 270 AD, Antioch mint, officina 5, Obverse: laureate bust R, VABALATHVS V C R IM D R, Reverse: radiate bust R, IMP C AVRELIANVS AVG, E, coin rotation, billon, 21mm, 4.35g, SR11718, XF

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Vabalathus was child king of Palmyra, a breakaway state in what is now Jordan. His mother, Zenobia, ran the affairs of the state. The Romans refused to recognize his title until Aurelian, needing peace in the East so he could make war in the west, agreed to recognize him. A few years later Aurelian changed his mind and invaded and annexed Palmyra.

The Roman Empire was a system of theoretically constrained autocracy. The Emperor was supposed to be accepted by the Senate, which was supposed to be representing the people. It became difficult to restrain the autocrats. The succession problem was never solved. Many Emperors were murdered. In the 4th century AD the Empire was split for administrative purposes into eastern and western branches, the west devolving into local kingdoms in the 5th century AD, while the eastern branch continued as what we call the Byzantine Empire until 1453.

“Ancient Coins” includes Greek and Roman coins and those of neighbors and successors, geographically from Morocco and Spain all the way to Afghanistan. Date ranges for these begin with the world’s earliest coins of the 8th century BC to, in an extreme case, the end of Byzantine Empire, 1453 AD.