SELEUCIS & PIERIA ANTIOCH Marcus Aurelius 161-180 AD bronze


SYRIA: SELEUCIS & PIERIA, ANTIOCH, Marcus Aurelius, 161-180 AD, minor, Obverse: laureate head R, legend is probably AVT KA MA AYP ANTΩNEINOC CEB, Reverse: SC in wreath, Δ, bronze, 23mm, 10.25g, SGI-1670v, part of the obverse legend is off the flan, another part is weak, aVF

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Marcus Aurelius was a youth when he came to the attention of the Emperor Hadrian, who prevailed upon Antoninus Pius to adopt him, along with the son of Aelius, who would have succeeded Hadrian had he not died. When Antoninus became Emperor he made Marcus Caesar, that is, junior Emperor. He passed most of his reign fighting barbarians. Considered one of the most humane of the Emperors.

Seleucis and Pieria was an ancient region of “greater Syria” that inclued the northwestern part of modern Syria and southeastern Anatolia in modern Turkey. Pieria is the land surrounding the town of Seleucia, which was built around 300 BC by Seleukos (Seleucus) I Nikator, a general of Alexander the Great. Briefly conquered by Tigranes II of Armenia, Seleucia was then taken by the Roman general Pompey the Great, who gave it to Antiochos I Theos of Commagene, at which time the city was renamed Antioch. Antioch thrived for centuries as an emporium where the Arabian caravans met the Silk Road caravans met the Mediterranean maritime trade. Philip II was son of Philip I (the Arab), who was constantly fighting during his reign. At age 7 the son was made “Caesar,” the name of the famous dictator had been made into an administrative title meaning “junior emperor. He was named co-Emperor at age 12. Of course he didn’t “do” anything other than follow his father around. Dad took him off to war and they both died, or maybe Philip II made it back to Rome and was assassinated by the Praetorian (palace) Guards.

The Romans, as they were building their empire, preferred to let the local coinage arrangements remain in place. As they developed their political system into the Cult of Personality that was the Empire, they started putting imperial portraits on the local coins. Later, as the Empire began to shrink, they preferred to centralize their coinage operations, eliminating local control. There were also allied and client states, some of which, at times, issued coins celebrating the alliance or subservience. The main catalog reference for these coins on this web site is Greek Imperial Coins and their Values, by David Sear.

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.