Coinage of Rhesaena in Mesopotamia

Castelin, Karel O.
Numismatic Notes and Monographs
American Numismatic Society
New York
Worldcat Works




Open access edition funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities/Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Humanities Open Book Program.


Table of Contents




In the waste of Mesopotamia where the population is, for the most part, sparse and nomadic, the mountains and the river districts form exceptional areas. The most extensive river basin is that of the Chabur, the only continuously flowing tributary of the Euphrates in Mesopotamia. Its head waters are in a depression half way between the Kurdish mountains and the western continuation of the Jebel Abd el Aziz, where the most copious of the numerous springs is known in Arabic as Ras el Ain or "Spring head," whence the city of Rhesaena takes its name. Today only the valley of the Chabur proper is partly settled. In the Middle Ages and Antiquity it was quite different: the thickly strewn tells and ruins show that for hundreds and thousands of years cities flourished in the Chabur valley and the surrounding regions. 1

Settlement of the neighborhood of Rhesaena goes back to neolithic times and we have evidence for its continued occupation through the long periods of local power and control by Assyria. To the Assyrians succeeded the Medes and to the Medes the Persians, from whose time no substantial remains are known in the Chabur spring region. The successors of Alexander, however, in pursuance of a general policy later adopted by the Romans, settled colonies of veterans in northern Mesopotamia which became autonomous cities using the Seleucid era and the Macedonian calendar, Greek commercial laws and, above all, the Greek language as the speech of trade and commerce.

During the succeeding centuries, however, until about 200 A. D. the Aramaic-Arabic influence again grew gradually stronger. Nomadic tribes penetrated into the settled areas. Edessa in Osrhoene became the capital of a more or less independent Arabian state under Parthian influence. The attempted interference of Rome collapsed at Carrhae, where Crassus lost the battle, his army and his life, and the Chabur lands remained under the tolerant control of the Parthians who encroached little on the administration of the autonomous cities. The Parthian era was one of prosperity for Mesopotamia; business throve and trade greatly increased. The whole land profited from the enormous caravan traffic which bound the East to Asia Minor, Greece and Italy; it became the bridge between the Parthian kingdom and the world power of Rome and even the campaign of Trajan hardly altered that condition.

Nevertheless, from the first Christian century on we must assume a growing number of Roman citizens side by side with the native population, Greek, Semitic and Iranian. At the end of the second century there began a systematic Roman military colonization and later the banishment of the native dynasty of Edessa brought a new influx of Romans into the country, though they still remained a small minority of the population, and Greek maintained its position as the written language, fortified by the Roman policy of fostering Hellenism in its widest sense among the heterogeneous eastern people. The historical events which led to the conquering of Mesopotamia under Marcus Aurelius and to its reorganization and the increasing of the army by three new legions under Septimius Severus are well known. 2 The incorporation of Mesopotamia brought it into close contact with the Hellenized provinces of the East, especially with that center of Hellenism, Antioch on the Orontes, whose influence, powerful if superficial, is evident on many of the lesser cities of the district. Others, however, such as Dura, Rhesaena, Nisibis and Singara which lay near the Parthian border gradually became typical Roman garrison towns.

The new province of Mesopotamia was for a time under a procurator of equestrian rank, then under an equestrian prefect who held one of the highest positions available to a knight, carrying with it the title of vir eminentissimus. 3 Of the three new Parthian legions, two, the Prima and the Tertia Parthica, were stationed in the new province; the Secunda, as is well known, was quartered in the Alban hills near Rome. The commanders of these legions, which were ducenarii, 4 were knights with rank equal to that of procurator. 5 In the course of the third century a single prefect seems to have held the command of both Mesopotamian legions and at the same time to have been administrator of the province. 6 His headquarters are assumed to have been at Nisibis 7 but much can also be said for Rhesaena. Perhaps he also commanded the little Euphrates fleet.

Of the two new Mesopotamian legions, the First Parthica had its station from the beginning at Singara in the east of the province where it remained until the time of Constantius II. 8 It has already been conjectured that Rhesaena was the head-quarters of the Third Parthica. 9 Here was the principal camp, the quarters of the commander and his staff, the sanctuary for the aquila and signa, the portraits of the imperial family and the legion's treasury. But though a large part of the fighting force was stationed here we must not assume that the whole strength was kept together. On the contrary, in a border province such as Mesopotamia there were a number of praesidia, permanent military sub-stations which furnished garrisons for all the strategic points and patrols for the important roads. Such subordinate stations, held by detachments, were necessary on frontiers where there was no continuous fortified limes as there was in Germany. In addition there were various temporary details, such as foraging, escort, construction and police which occupied the soldiers with perpetual but varied duties. Nevertheless, they had far more freedom than the legionaries of the Republic had enjoyed. They were not merely stationed in the Roman colony but were at home there. Not only veterans, but men on active duty received allotments of land and tilled the soil as early as the time of Septimius Severus. They could now contract legal marriages and lived with their families or in lodgings, reporting for duty only periodically. On the other hand, for many years after their discharge the veterans were considered as a reserve and were available for duty in emergencies in special divisions entitled vexilla veteranorum.

The ruins of ancient Rhesaena lie in the center of the Chabur spring region, longitude 40° 8′ N., latitude 36° 48-49′ E. on the right bank of the Chabur (the Chaboras of antiquity) about two kilometers above its junction with the Djerdjib. The site is now known as Fecheria. 10 The ruins cover more than a square kilometer; the city was larger than the neighboring Tell Halaf. All about were extensive suburbs, supported by the fertile soil and the abundance of water. The investigations of Chapot and Oppenheim have revealed very little of the actual features of the city, though the latter thought he could identify the remains of the Roman military camp within the city walls. 11 Until excavation can produce more evidence we must rely on its probable likeness to the nearby colony of Dura-Europos. 12

Rhesaena was from early times an important center and junction of many ancient and well-travelled roads. One started from Zeugma, one from Samosata, both running through Carrhae in Oshroene and through Rhesaena to Ninus (Mossul) by way of Nisibis or of Singara, or, branching off at Rhesaena, to Hatra and the Tigris. From here the way lay downstream into the Parthian kingdom, to Babylon and the Persian Gulf. The northern route through Mesopotamia is that which the Romans repeatedly used in their eastern campaigns, and which the Parthians followed in their attack on the West. Two roads coming down from Amida in the Kurdish mountains cross the main highway at Rhesaena, the one leading to Nicephorium at the junction of the Belissus (Balikh) with the Euphrates, and from there across the desert to Palmyra, the other following the Chabur south to Circesium. Although there are few mentions of the town in ancient literature we need not doubt that it was a place of importance; at least it was of sufficient consequence in Roman times to support its own mint.


Before the opening of the civic mints in northern Mesopotamia the currency of the region was, as might have been expected, Parthian with an increasing admixture of Roman coins; tetradrachms struck in Antioch and denarii and bronze from the mint of Rome. 13 The Parthian wars of Septimius Severus and later those of his son Caracalla, with their large concentration of troops must have further encouraged the use of imperial coins in the East. But at the same time there began an increase in the number of mint towns in Syria and Mesopotamia issuing local bronze coinages under the supervision of a city magistrate. These gradually supplanted the imperial bronze which was produced in smaller and smaller quantities. Even on the Rhine and the Danube they were rare in the first decade of the third century; 14 on the Euphrates it must have been the same. The metal for the Mesopotamian (and Syrian?) bronze coins came presumably from the rich copper mines of Arghana Maden near Diarbekr to the north of Rhesaena, which are still among the most important in the world.

The so-called Vexillum-coins and the autonomous coins of Rhesaena both belong to the local coinage. We shall speak later of their types and inscriptions; here we wish to deal with their comparative metal content so far as that is possible in their present condition. Bellinger 15 has divided the coinage of our province in the third century into four groups according to size: pieces with diameters of 30, 25, 20 and 15 mm. Similarly the coins of Rhesaena, divided according to average weight 16 fall into two groups: those from Caracalla to Severus (211–235) forming one, those of Trajan Decius (249–251) the other. The weights of the coins in this catalogue have been noted whenever possible, especially for the time of Decius, for which we still have relatively few points of comparison.

The coins of the first period are listed in Table I where we find three groups of distinct type and weight. The smallest coins (those having a diameter of 16–18 mm.) with only one vexillum 17 on the reverse and the emperor's head on the obverse have an average weight of 3.65 gr. under Caracalla and 3.34 gr. under Severus Alexander (setting aside No. 1 as abnormal perhaps due to an error in weight). The next larger group (diameter 19–20 mm.) with two vexilla appears under two emperors; under Caracalla the average weight is 6.13 gr., under Elagabalus only 5.73 gr. (only two examples). We do not know what these denominations were called, we can only say that they were the two smallest, corresponding roughly to the Roman semis 18 and quadrans (or triens); two of the smaller pieces were perhaps equal to one of the larger.

Of the coins with a diameter of about 25 mm. the very rare older pieces (those of Elagabalus) are in general heavier than the more common pieces of Severus Alexander. 19 There is no doubt, however, that they represent the same denomination and had the same purchasing power. They were perhaps comparable to the Roman dupondius, or more probably to the as. 20

It is of interest to note that the reduction in weight which took place in the imperial coins after 217 was paralleled here in Rhesaena in the smaller coins of Elagabalus and Severus Alexander. The great amount of wear apparent on almost all of these coins, notably the Vexillum-coins, indicates that they had a more extended circulation both in time and space than can now be proven. They were used not only in the narrow circle of the mint city but wherever members of that legion went whose name they bore; that is, in all garrison stations and outposts within and on the border of the province, such as Dura. If so far they have not been identified in finds, except from Dura, it is probably because of their poor state of preservation and the fact that until recently they have not been recognized as a single, related group.

Maximinus (235-238) struck no coins in Mesopotamia at all. Neither Gordian III (238-244) nor Philip (244-249) minted in Rhesaena, though the former used the mint at Singara and Nisibis and the latter that at Nisibis. Both in style and size their coins offer additional confirmation of Mommsen's assumption that in the third century the local copper currencies were gradually absorbed into the imperial coinage. 21 Considered in this light the issues of Gordian would correspond to sestertii and dupondii or asses, 22 and those of Philip to asses and semes. 23

In describing the Eighth and Ninth Dura Hoards, Bellinger points out that after the expedition of Gordian III in 242 a definite plan was followed in the copper coinage of Mesopotamia as a whole, apparently under the supervision of a Roman magistrate. We may add that as the militarization of the administration of the Roman province became more marked, the local coinage seemed to take on more and more of a military character, at least in a border province such as Mesopotamia. This development must have led gradually to the mint's personnel becoming identified with the army and the mint towns with the garrisons.

The unusually rich local coinage of Rhesaena under Trajan Decius (249-251) can be divided both by size and type into three clearly marked denominations. Their average weights are listed in the following table.

Diameter ca. 26 mm.
1st Period, 24 issues a, b, c
Average weight of 16 pieces 12.52 gr.
2nd Period, issues d, e, f
Average weight of 29 pieces 11.94 gr.
Average weight of 45 pieces 12.14 gr.
Diameter ca. 21 mm.
2nd Period
Average weight of 4 pieces 6.27 gr.
Diameter ca. 16 mm.
1st Period
Weight of 1 piece 4.30 gr.
2nd Period
Average weight of 4 pieces 3.16 gr.
Average weight of 5 pieces 3.39 gr.

We have here three denominations whose relation can be expressed in round numbers as 4 to 2 to 1. Like the earlier coins of Rhesaena they have no mark of value. In order to establish the denominations which they represent we must compare them with the imperial coinage. Comparison with the imperial issues of Decius 25 gives the following:

Imperial Coinage Coinage of Rhesaena Denomination
40.93 gr. Double Sestertius
20.46 gr. Sestertius
12.14 gr.
10.23 gr. Dupondius
9.63 gr. As
6.27 gr.
3.21 gr. 3.29 gr. Triens or quadrans

The smallest denomination of the provincial series is apparently the triens or quadrans (opinions still differ as to the proper term for the imperial coins). The difference here between the local and imperial standard is inconsiderable. The other two units of the city, however, fall between those of the imperial series. The pieces of 6.27 gr. can evidently be semisses. 26 The pieces of 12.14 gr. we have considered dupondii although they are con- spicuously heavier than the imperial standard. 27 We must content ourselves provisionally with these names for the coins of Rhesaena, recognizing that many questions remain unanswered. Indeed not only is the whole relation of eastern to imperial coinage most uncertain, but the nomenclature of the imperial coinage itself for this period is purely hypothetical. 28

End Notes

13 On the circulation of the denarius in Syria cf. Mommsen, Geschichte des römisches Münzwesen, Berlin, 1860, p. 717. The coins of Mesopotamia as a whole in Roman times have been treated in Eckhels' Doctrina Numorum and Head's Historia Numorum. There is valuable material in Macdonald's Catalogue of the Hunterian Collection, but the fundamental work is Hill's volume on Arabia, Mesopotamia and Persia , of the Catalogue of Greek Coins in the British Museum. Hoards from Dura-Europos containing Mesopotamian as well as Syrian material are published in the Notes and Monographs of the American Numismatic Society as follows: Bellinger, Two Roman Hoards from Dura-Europos (No. 49); The Third and Fourth Dura Hoards (No. 55); The Sixth, Seventh and Tenth Dura Hoards (No. 69); The Eighth and Ninth Dura Hoards (No. 85); Newell, The Fifth Dura Hoard (No. 58). See also the chapters on the coins in the Dura Preliminary Reports II, III, IV, V, VI, VII–VIII; Cumont, Etudes Syriennes, Paris, 1917, pp. 21–22; 141, note 1; 188; 281; Welles, The civil archives of Dura 383 (D. Pg. 23); 396 (D. Pg. 32); Bellinger and Welles "A Third Century Contract of Sale from Dura-Europos," Yale Classical Studies V (1935); Babelon, "Charac-Moba," Revue Numismatique, 1899, pp. 274–277; Imhoof-Blumer, Griechische Münzen, Munich, 1890, p. 234.
14 Mommsen, Römisches Münzwesen, p. 735; Bernhart, Handbuch zur Münzkunde der römischen Kaiserzeit, Halle, 1926, p. 10.
15 Dura Rep., VII–VIII, pp. 419–421.
16 No allowance is made here for wear; the actual weight is used.
17 No. 7 is an exception with standard between two vexilla.
18 Compare the Syrian semis under Trajan, whose average weight Wruck (Die Syrische Provinzialprägungen, Stuttgart, 1931, pp. 167, 172) gives as 5.06 gr.; the Syrian as of the same period would indicate a semis of 5.76 gr.
19 The great variation in weight of the single coins of Severus Alexander (8.4–15.19 gr.) is not surprising for they have, without exception, been struck over used flans which were probably already worn in varying degrees. Elmer (Verzeichnis der römische Reichsprägungen, p. 28) gives the weight of the Roman copper as after 217 as 1/32 of the Roman pound: 10.23 gr. which is not far from our average weight.
20 Wruck, op. cit., pp. 167, 172, equates the similar Syrian copper piece of Trajan (11.53 gr.) with the as or 1/2 as.
21 Cf. the authorities cited in note 14.
22 Sestertii, B.M.C. Arabia , p. 121, Nos. 14, 15; p. 135, Nos. 7–13. Dupondii or asses, ibid. p. 121, Nos. 11–13; p. 134, Nos. 1–6; p. 136, Nos. 14, 15.
23 Asses, B.M.C. Arabia , pp. 122f., Nos. 17–25, 27–32. Semis, ibid., p. 12, No. 26.
24 For discussion of this period cf. below, pp. 56-62.
25 Elmer, Verzeichnis der römische Reichsprägungen, p. 28. Bernhart, Handbuch zur Münzkunde der römischen Kaiserzeit, p. 23, considers the smallest denomination a quadrans. Cf. also Regling, R.E. II A, 1351. Wittig, R.E. XV, 1, 1277, calls it a semis.
26 Strack, Untersuchungen zur römischen Reichsprägung des zweiten Jahrhunderts, Stuttgart, 1931–1937, II, puts imperial coins of approximately the same size (of the time of Hadrian) into two different groups: half as and semis, unfortunately without giving accurate weights.


Every coin registered in the catalogue is of bronze. 29 All coins have borders of dots on both sides and the inscriptions begin below, at the left. Diameter, weight and relation of reverse die to obverse are given wherever known. When there are several examples of a coin, all from a single pair of dies, only the best preserved inscription is given; the diameter and weight of the others are recorded.


The Vexillum-coins

There are in the public collections of Europe certain coins of similar fabric and type which for the most part have not yet been published. They are sometimes listed among the uncertain coins of Mesopotamia, sometimes under the coinage of Rhesaena. They came from the first third of the third century and form a homogeneous group which is distinguished from other contemporary Mesopotamian coins in size, style and type. The reverse shows a vexillum, a Roman military ensign, and hence the whole group may be called Vexillum-coins.

They have a diameter of 15-18 mm. and an average weight of ca. 3.5 gr. No inscription indicates their place of origin, but their Mesopotamian character is certain. Their striking, in comparison with imperial coins, is notably careless and uneven and their preservation generally very bad. They were issued under Caracalla, Elagabalus and Severus Alexander, but the first two are very hard to distinguish, for their portraits are here mere caricatures, and their names are identical, being apparently written AYTOK(ράτωρ) K(αῖσαρ) M(άρκος) A(ὐρήλιος) ANTΩNINOΣ ΣEB(αστός) though never entirely visible on any one coin. The forms of the letters and the abbreviations vary: instead of ω and Ω one finds O as well; instead of I, EI; the name is sometimes in the accusative (ANTΩNINON). The A appears, as often elsewhere, without the cross bar (Λ); other letters are backwards (N, image, Ɔ); Z sometimes stands for Ξ. Of the obverse inscription under Severus Alexander little more than AΛEΞAN ΔPOΣ is recognizable. In the text the standard forms E, Ξ, Σ, Ω are used for ε, Z, C, ω.

End Notes

27 The opinion of Cesano (and Mommsen) that the radiate crown denotes a double value—dupondius or antoninianus (Atti e Memorie dell'Istituto Italiano di Numismatica, Vol. III, Fasc. II 1919, p. 50) finds no support here, for all of the large bronzes of Decius from Rhesaena obviously represent the same denomination whether the head is radiate or laureate. Cf. Bellinger, Dura Rep. VII–VIII, p. 420, note 6.
28 Kubitschek, "Die Münzsorten der Inschrift von Feltre," Anzeiger der Akademie der Wissenschaften in Wien, philologische-historische Klasse 71, 1934, p. 145.
29 For base silver tetradrachms which may have been struck at Rhesaena see Bellinger, The Syrian Tetradrachms of Caracalla and Macrinus , New York, 1940, pp. 60f. Nos. 170–177.


Caracalla , 211–217
1. ...ANT[...]NON ΣEB Plate I
Head of Caracalla r., bearded, laureate, seen from the rear; beneath, eagle flying r.
Rev. Vexillum between image
B.M.C. (Rhesaena), 3, Pl. XVIII, 3; ↑, 19 mm. 8.34 gr. (?)
2. ..IOII.. [ ].... Plate I
Rev. Vexillum, on which .I.. between image
Berlin (Incerti Mesopotamiae), ↑, 17 mm., 4.12 gr.
3. ........ΩNIN...
Rev. Similar to No. 1 image
Vienna (Rhesaena), ↓, 18 mm., 4.65 gr.
4. [ ]. ΛNΣ
Rev. Vexillum on which image between image
Berlin (Incert. Mesop.), ↙, 16 mm., 2.39 gr.
5. [ ] ANTΩИI Plate I
Male head r., laureate; beneath, eagle flying r.
Rev. Vexillum and Sagittarius r., in field 1. image, r.Ɔ
B.M.C. (Rhesaena), 2, Pl. XVIII, 2, ↓ 16 mm., 2.11 gr.
6. AYT....TΩN[ Plate I
Rev. Similar to No. 5, but with smaller Vexillum, Sagittarius larger, no inscription
Leningrad (Rhesaena), ↑, 16 mm., 4.22 gr.
7. AYTOI..[ Plate I
Same die as No. 6
Rev. Roman signum between two vexilla; in field image
Berlin (Incert. Mesop.), ↗ 16 mm., 3.70 gr.
8. ....ITΩ..... Plate I
Male head, r., laureate
Rev. Similar to No. 1; on the vexillum image, in field image
Berlin (Incert. Mesop.), 17 mm., 4.77 gr.
9. ΛVTOI......... Plate I
Rev. Similar. In field image
Vienna (Rhesaena) ↓ 17 mm., 3.88 gr.
10. Inscription illegible
Rev. Similar. On the vexillum image in field image
Berlin (Incert. Mesop.), ↗ 15 mm.
11. ..O.....[ Plate I
Male head (?), r., radiate
Rev. Similar ...|...
Berlin (Incert. Mesop.) ↗ 16 mm.
12. ]ΛINOΩИ.... Plate I
Male head l., laureate
Rev. Similar. In field, image
Berlin (Incert. Mesop.), ↗ 18 mm., 3.07 gr.
Caracalla with Domna, Plautilla or Geta
13. Inscription illegible Plate I
Two busts confronted, male bust r., laureate, female (?) bust l.; beneath, spread eagle l., looking r.
Rev. Similar. In field image
Berlin (Incert. Mesop.) ↗ 19 mm., 5.88 gr.

All of the coins reading ANTΩNINOC or something similar and having a bearded portrait can be attributed with certainty to Caracalla. But it is not always possible to say whether the head is bearded or not. Dots and lines or a ragged outline may be meant to indicate a beard or may merely be due to the ineptitude of the engraver. On our coins all of those with definitely bearded heads and those on which there probably was a beard are supported by a spread eagle, which strengthens the attribution to Caracalla. We have similar representations of this emperor on the tetradrachms, and on bronze from Nisibis, 30 (Plate Ia) whereas I know of no similar coins of Elagabalus from Syria or Mesopotamia.

Nos. 1–4 may therefore be considered certain. The similar obverse of Nos. 5 and 6 would connect them also with Caracalla; the only difficulty lies in the appearance of Sagittarius on the reverse who occurs also on Nos. 14–16, attributed to Elagabalus. It also seems to me that the autonomous coins with Sagittarius should be given to Elagabalus. But since Sagittarius is the sign of the III Parthian Legion, organized by Septimius Severus, he could obviously appear on Vexillum-coins under Caracalla. The fact that Nos. 6 and 7 have the same obverse die but different reverse types shows that more than one reverse may be attributed to one emperor. In the cases of Nos. 8–12 the similarity of the reverse to that of No. 1 connects them with Caracalla in spite of the absence of the eagle on the obverse and the uncertainty as to the beard.

No. 13 is exceptional. The piece is much worn and the obverse inscription illegible, but two confronted busts are recognizable. That on the left is certainly laureate and seems to have been bearded, but whether that on the right is male or female we cannot decide. The pair might conceivably be Macrinus and Diadumenian or even Elagabalus and Severus Alexander, but the eagle is characteristic of Caracalla and until a better preserved specimen is found we shall assume that the persons represented are he and Domna, Plautilla or Geta; the identification of the second figure might be of great value in establishing the chronology of the vexillum coinage.

Elagabalus, 218–222
14. Inscription illegible Plate III
Bust r., laureate, in cuirass and paludamentum (?). In field r., uncertain object.
Rev. Sagittarius running r., behind, two vexilla; in field l. female head r., with mural crown and veil (?)
Berlin, (Incert. Mesop.), ↑, 22 mm., 5.09 gr.
15. Similar. No inscription Plate III
Rev. Similar
Paris, ↗ 20 mm.
16. Similar. Inscription illegible Plate III
Rev. Similar, but without female head; between vexilla ‖ (?)
Berlin (Incert. Mesop.), ↙, 16 mm., 3.65 gr.

Nothing remains of any of the inscriptions. But the absence of the eagle, the apparently beardless head and the difference in size, weight and type justify their provisional attribution to Elagabalus.

Severus Alexander, 222–235
Bust r., laureate, in cuirass and paludamentum
Rev. Sagittarius r., in his right hand bow, in field r. vexillum with inscription image, beneath image
B.M.C. (Rhesaena), 9, Pl. XVIII, 6, ↑, 19 mm., 3.01 gr.
17A. ......AΛ.............. Plate III
Same die as No. 17
Rev. Sagittarius r., his right hand over right shoulder, in left hand, bow.
Castelin, Prague, ↑, 17 mm., 3.35 gr.
18. ....KΣIΛI..[ Plate III
Bust r., laureate, in cuirass and paludamentum
Rev. Eagle sitting l., behind him, vexillum; in field image
Berlin (Incert. Mesop.), ↙, 16 mm., 3.65 gr.

With the last three coins of our series we are on firm ground. The remains of the inscriptions identify the emperor. Although the earlier vexillum coins are of much poorer workmanship than the contemporary autonomous pieces, here the reverse is true, these three being better in style and technique than the city coinage under the same emperor.

On No. 17 something seems to have been represented above the vexillum, perhaps a spread eagle as on the later small coins under Trajan Decius. Below the archer is a Δ. The same letter appears in the same place on the autonomous coins of Rhesaena under Elagabalus (No. 23). What it means here and whether it has the same meaning in both places is not known. 31

The principal reverse type of this whole group of coins is one of the insignia of the Roman army, the vexillum, in the form which is familiar from other monuments. (Plates XIV, XVII) "An einem Lanzenschafte ist ein Querholz befestigt, von welchem ein quadratisches Stück Zeug niederhängt, dessen unterer Rand mit Fransen besetzt ist. . . . Der Schuh hat die Form eines Dreizackes. Das Vexillum trägt die. . . . Bezeichnung des Truppenkörpers, aus welchem die Vexillation ausgeschieden worden ist." 32 A ribbon decorated with a metal ivy leaf hangs from the end of the cross piece.

The vexillum was the oldest type of flag in the Roman army. 33 Cassius Dio describes such vexilla in connection with the Parthian campaign of Crassus. 34 Since he speaks of more than one, he cannot have meant the single red flag flying from the commander's tent as a signal for battle. 35 In Caesar also we find the vexillum used as a standard without reference to a particular military unit. 36 Later it was used as the characteristic emblem of bodies of mixed troops, known as vexillationes made up of different divisions of one legion or of detachments from several legions and auxiliary troops. 37 Veterans also, at the expiration of their service, were united under a vexillum and subject to call in emergency. However, the vexillum also appears as a symbol of the legion. An imperial coin of Trajan (a sestertius in the series commemorating the first Dacian war) has four eagles and four vexilla on the reverse. 38 On the triumphal arch at Beneventum a female figure holds a vexillum on which five eagles are perched. 39 This combination of vexillum and eagle appears at Rhesaena under Severus Alexander (No. 18) and later on the small coins of Trajan Decius (Nos. 151–156) as also under Geta and Gallienus at Tyre. 40 Here the eagle is obviously a symbol not of the imperial cult 41 but of the Roman army. 42

Even without the presence of the eagle the vexillum may represent the legion, as is shown by the inscription on the coins under discussion which sometimes appears on the flag (No. 17), more generally in the field. In spite of various omissions and distortions the legend always stands for LEG III P S, that is, "Legio III Parthica Severiana." 43 We know from Cassius Dio that of the three legions newly formed under Septimius Severus the II Parthica was stationed in Italy, I and III in Mesopotamia. 44

The Vexillum-coins, therefore, and the contemporary and later autonomous colonial coins of Rhesaena belong to the small class which are not imperial coins and yet bear the official names of Roman legions. Aside from their connection with the active troops, they are significant of the status of the town as a military colony, 45 (Plate II B [Damascus] C [Tyre]) and of the religious associations frequently assumed by military insignia. Legionary eagles and signa together with statues of the emperor were accorded divine honors and received sacrifices. The Dura excavations show that the vexilla were revered in the same fashion. 46 We should note also that in the East signa and vexilla are frequently represented in conjunction with religious types related to the local cult. The Dura excavations have brought to light an interesting object: a thymiaterion decorated with a winged figure with palm branch, two standards, a man carrying an eagle (?), other birds (eagles?), etc. (Fig. 1). Presumably the representations all have military associations, but the religious significance is not thereby excluded. 47

The portrayal of two vexilla with a standard between (No. 7) or together with Sagittarius (Nos. 14–16) is perhaps to be understood as designating two divisions of the III Parthica stationed in different places, 48 or perhaps as referring to the two legions in our province, as on the somewhat earlier coins in Dacia and Moesia the figure of the Province holds two vexilla, or two vexilla are pictured at the side of the emperor. 49 The omission of the III Parthica in the inscription might be due to the fact that the Vexillum-coins, struck at the colony which was the headquarters of the III Parthica, was primarily designed to be used as fractional currency for this legion and the veterans. The two vexilla cannot be a mark of value, for the smaller denomination (e.g. No. 7) also has them.


Fig. 1. — Thymiatherion from Dura.

The combination of meanings religious, military and municipal occurs again with the appearance of Sagittarius, the centaur with drawn bow who runs or stands on a number of these coins. He is the zodiacal sign between Scorpio and Capricorn, which latter the sun entered at the winter solstice. Throughout the East and particularly in the Euphrates-Tigris district the sun, moon, stars and constellations had been worshipped from remote antiquity. Not only did each of the signs of the zodiac rule for a portion of the year, but every person, every city, nation, district was under the protection of one of the twelve, which with its peculiar character influenced business and trade, brought good luck or bad, and in short directed the whole course of terrestrial life, the destinies of men and countries. In the second and third Christian centuries the worship of the stars and constellations gained new strength with the growth of astrology and the spread of Mithraism. Sagittarius was particularly appropriate to Mesopotamia as the country of mounted archers. To be sure, at the time of Rome's first contact with the Parthians, such troops were counted among the most conspicuous enemies of the Republic, but in the course of time, as the Romans recognized the weakness of their cavalry in the Parthian wars, the mounted archers of the East began to be recruited for the Roman army. The stationing at Dura of the Cohors XX Palmyrenorum, composed of archers from Palmyra, is testimony of the growing importance of that type of cavalry in the Roman fighting forces. 50

Not only is Sagittarius appropriate to the region in general and to the native troops, but there is good reason to believe that he may have been the special insignia of the Legio III Parthica. His combination with the vexillum (Nos. 5, 6, 14–17A) would suggest it, and a similar centaur was the sign of the sister legion II Parthica, as shown by the legionary coins 51 (Plate II, D, E [Gallienus]). In the latter case, it is true, the centaur holds a ball or club instead of a bow, but that may be a modification due to the legion's being stationed in the West where there was a tendency to identify Sagittarius with the centaur Chiron. 52 The close association of Roman forces in the East with local cults is illustrated by the wall painting from Dura 53 which shows the sacrifice of the tribune Julius Terentius, performing a supplicatio or turis oblatio before the three military gods of Palmyra, while the officers of the Cohors XX Palmyrenorum look on, the standard-bearer carrying the vexillum; at the side are the city goddesses of Dura and Palmyra (Plate XIV). It is possible, but incapable of proof, that the three Parthian legions were all organized at the same time just before the winter solstice and therefore took Sagittarius as their symbol because they came into existence under that sign.

It is also argued that the centaur has direct reference to the founding of the colony of Rhesaena. Hill remarks 54 "It may be suggested that the zodiacal signs which play so important a part on the coins of Mesopotamian cities are, so to speak, genethliac, marking in each case the sign under which the colony was founded," and "Sagittarius is less probably the sign of the legion, or an allusion to a local force of mounted archers, than the zodiacal sign proper to Rhesaena. Singara seems also to have been founded under the same constellation." The colonial coins of Singara, like those of Rhesaena, show Sagittarius over the head of the city goddess. 55 But the fact that in Mesopotamia we can trace the Archer back to Babylonian times (Fig. 2) and that he appears on autonomous issues which do not mention the colonial title seems to me to indicate that his character is to be understood in a general sense and that the constellation did not first take on significance at the time of the later Greek "founding of the city," nor still later at the purely Roman "founding of the colony."

On two coins of Elagabalus (Nos. 14 and 15, perhaps 16 as well) there appears in the field of the reverse a head wearing turreted crown and veil or long hair. This might be the head of Virtus legionis 56 but is more probably Tyche, the tutelary goddess and personification of the city. Her picture, generally the full figure, is the most usual reverse type on Mesopotamian coins. 57 This raises the question of the identity of the mint city. The Mesopotamian origin of the coins is certain, which means that the possibilities are: Anthemusias, Edessa, Carrhae, Nisibis, Singara and Rhesaena. Anthemusias can be left out of consideration entirely. The city minted very little and was much less important than other towns in the province. From Edessa, Caracalla, Elagabalus and Severus Alexander all issued coins of similar fabric to the Vexillum-coins . But the local coinage was so abundant as to need no supplement and it never displays a military type or inscription. The greater part of the Roman troops for whose use the Vexillum-coin, were especially designed were not stationed at Edessa but farther to the east and south, in posts nearer the frontier. The same objections apply in the case of Carrhae. Nisibis struck coins continuously from the time of Caracalla to the Persian invasion in the reign of Maximinus, and later under Gordian III. The importance of this town as a military base and perhaps as the residence of the Procurator of Mesopotamia 58 would argue in favor of considering it as the mint city of the Vexillum-coins. The coins of Caracalla have the same sort of portrait, with the head over the eagle, but the appearance of Aries (as in Antioch) above the head of Tyche makes Nisibis an improbable candidate, for Aries never occurs on the Vexillum-coins. In Singara, on the other hand, Sagittarius occupies the place above Tyche and, on the small bronzes of Gordian III, is represented as standing before the vexillum, a type reminiscent of our No. 17 (Plate III, F, G). But, except for these, all of the coins of Singara have a completely local, colonial character and the civic mint operated during the reign of Gordian III only, whereas the Vexillum-coins are all prior to the Persian invasion. Moreover, the garrison of Singara was probably drawn from the Legio I Parthica 59 whereas the Vexillum-coins belong to the III Parthica.


Fig. 2.—Sagittarius (Babylonian).

We are therefore reduced to Rhesaena as a possible mint city and here the connection is close not only because of the presence there of Legio III Parthica, 60 but because of the relation of the types to those of the city coinage about to be discussed.

The City Coinage

Like other places in Mesopotamia Rhesaena struck only copper in her own name. Compared to the output of other cities that of Rhesaena is small in the period from Caracalla to Severus Alexander. Of most types comparatively few examples are known; certain types are preserved only in single specimens. It is therefore not impossible that new coins may turn up to correct our present knowledge in many ways. The city coinage in general is much better than the really miserable Vexillum-coins; the two issues of Elagabalus show comparatively good workmanship, but the dies of this period—like those of Edessa and Carrhae—are simple and carelessly cut, the figures being sometimes very primitive and unskilful. In the portraits of the Emperors the die engravers confine themselves to differentiating the individuals by the beard, indicated by a few hasty lines and dots. Often this characteristic is missing so that we have the same difficulty in distinguishing Elagabalus from Caracalla that we met in the Vexillum-coins. Moreover the present condition of the known examples of these coins is for the most part only fair and often very poor.

End Notes

30 For the tetradrachms, Bellinger, The Syrian Tetradrachms of Caracalla and Macrinus , Pls. IX, 1; X, 15; XV, 16; XVI, 5; XVIII, 15–17; XXI, 14, 15; XXIV, 2; for Nisibis, Hunterian Collection III, Pl. LXXIX, 13 (3 similar examples in Berlin). The significance of the eagle and its connection with the imperial cult have often been discussed. See particularly Cumont, "L'Aigle funéraire," Etudes Syriennes, pp. 35–71 and Dieudonné, "L'Aigle d'Antioche," Revue Numismatique, 1909, pp. 458–480.
31 It certainly cannot be the initial of Dura as suggested by Blanchet ("Une monnaie présumée de Doura et la Legio III Parthica," Mélanges Syriens offerts à M. René Dussaud, Vol. I, Paris, 1939, pp. 21–25). No. 23, below, was certainly struck at Rheseana, and among the thousands of coins from the excavations of Dura now identified this type does not once occur.
32 Domaszewski, Die Fahnen in römischen Heere, Vienna, 1895. pp. 76f.
33 Max Mayer, Vexillum und Vexillarius, Diss. Freiburg i. Br. Strassburg, 1910, p. 7; Domaszewski, Fahnen, p. 79; Rostovtzeff, "Vexillum and Victory," Journal of Roman Studies, XXXII, 1942. pp. 92–106, reproduced on Plate XVII.
34 Cassius Dio, 40, 18, 3.
35 Domaszewski, Fahnen, p. 79, note 1.
36 Bellum Gallicum, VI, 36, 3.
37 Domaszewski, Fahnen, pp. 24–27; Chapot, La frontière de l'Euphrate, p. 71; Grosse, Römische Militärgeschichte von Gallienus , Berlin, 1920, p. 7; Daremberg-Saglio, Dictionnaire des antiquités grecques et romaines s.v. vexillatio; Nischer in Kromayer-Veith, Heerwesen und Kriegsführung der Griechen und Römer, Müller's Handbuch der Altertumswissenschaft, Munich, 1928, p. 439.
38 Strack, Untersuchungen zur römischen Reichsprägung, I, Pl. V, 364; pp. 112–113: Obverse as usual; on the reverse a statue of Trajan, to right and left of which "stehen je zwei Adler und hinter ihnen vier vexilla. Sie deuten—mit grösster Wahrscheinlichkeit—auf die vier Legionen, mit denen Trajan den ersten Krieg führte."
39 According to Domaszewski, Abhandlungen zur römischen Religion, Leipzig, 1909, p. 36, the figure represents virtus quinque legionum. See also Rostovtzeff, Gesellschaft und Wirtschaft, II, p. 265, note 1.
40 B.M.C., Phoenicia, p. 272, No. 380 and p. 294, No. 492, Pl. XXXV, 3.
41 Cf. note 30 above.
42 Domaszewski, Fahnen, p. 34; Strack, op, cit., p. 113, note 437.
43 Local coins of Rhesaena have been erroneously described as reading LEG III PIA, but there can be no connection with the Third Legion Pia Fidelis (Ritterling, "Legio" Pauly-Wissowa-Kroll, Real Encyclopädie, XII, 2, col. 1540. For the S standing for "Severiana" cf. the stamped tiles, with the inscription LEG II P S, of the soldiers of the II Parthica stationed in the Alban hills. This interpretation is corroborated by the inscriptions. Ephemeris Epigraphia, IX, 975; CIL VIII, 2877; 2891 (Lambaesis). Ritterling (R.E. XII, 2, 1540) was of the opinion that in the time of Septimius Severus the emperor's name was not yet used in connection with the name of a legion but his dating must be revised in the light of our coins struck under Caracalla. Since none of the legends of the vexillum coins under Elagabalus is legible we cannot tell what was the official name of the legion in his time. Under Severus Alexander (No. 18) the S would, of course, be appropriate whether it was continued or reintroduced.
44 Cassius Dio 55, 24, 4. Cf. Ritterling, op. cit., col. 1539; Schachermeyr, op. cit., col. 1161; Hill, B.M.C. Arabia , cx, note 3.
45 Cf. Reinach in Daremberg-Saglio, s.v. Vexillum, p. 777, "il (sc. le vexillum placé sur les monnaies) indique qu'une ville est colonie romaine."
46 Especially for the vexilla of auxiliary troops, Cumont, Fouilles de Doura-Europos, Paris, 1926, pp. 111–114; Rostovtzeff, Yale Classical Studies, V. p. 301. With these should be mentioned Minucius Felix, Octavius, 29.7, "et signa ipsa et cantabra et vexilla castrorum." The coins frequently show not only eagles but also military standards in temples; e.g. Imhoof-Blumer, Griechische Münzen, p. 235, No. 773, Pl. XIV, 7 (Hierapolis) B.M.C. Arabia , Pl. XII, 4 (Carrhae), and pp. xcii f.; Baur, Dura Rep. III, pp. 115–117; Hopkins, Dura Rep. V, p. 105.
47 Cumont, Dura, Rep. I, pp. 68–71, Pl. V.
48 On the division of the legions on the eastern border of the Empire, see Chapot, La frontière de l'Euphrate, pp. 85f.
49 B. Pick, Die antiken Münzen von Dacien und Moesien, Berlin, 1898, I, 1, Pl. I, 1; 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 10. In both provinces from the time of Caracalla on there were two legions (Ritterling, R.E. XII, 1366; Filow. Die Legionen der Provinz Moesia, Klio, Beiheft 6, p. 72). See also the coinage of Damascus in Eckhel, Doctrina Numorum Veterum, III. p, 333.
50 On Sagitarii in the Roman army see Cumont, Fouilles de Doura, pp. xl, liv, lv; Fiebiger, "Sagittarius" Pauly-Wissowa-Kroll-Witte, Real-Encyclopädie Reihe 2, I, 2, cols. 1743 – 1752 R.E. 1A, 1743ff; A. M. G. Little, Dura Rep. IV, p. 191; Rostovtzeff, Yale Classical Studies, V, p. 264, n. 140.
51 Mattingly-Sydenham, Roman Imperial Coinage V, 1, p. 94, Nos. 332–338 (Gallienus); V, 2, p. 441; p. 468, Nos. 60–64, p. 487; Nos. 269–271 (Carausius).
52 Boll, Sphaera, Leipzig, 1903, p. 131; Boll-Bezold, Sternglaube und Sterndeutung, Leipzig, 1926, p. 64.
53 Cumont, Fouilles de Doura, Pl. L and p. 113. Also see Rostovtzeff, Gesellschaft und Wirtschaft, II, p. 9, and Yale Classical Studies V, p. 247, note 123.
54 B.M.C. Arabia , pp. xciv and cxi.
55 On the similar significance of Aries on the coins of Antioch see Wroth, B.M.C. Galatia, p. lix. See also Bellinger, Yale Classical Studies V, p. 153.
56 Domaszewski, Abhandlungen zur römischen Religion, p. 36; Numina castrorum also wear the turreted crown, cf. idem, Die. Religion des römischen Heeres, Trier, 1895, pp. 41 and 96.
57 Cf. Bellinger, The Eighth and Ninth Dura Hoards, pp. 2–8,
58 Hasebroek. Untersuchungen zur Geschichte des Kaisars Septimius Severus , pp. 78f.
59 Ritterling, op. cit., col. 1436.
60 Ritterling, op. cit., col. 1539; Schachermeyr, op. cit., col. 1161; Hasebroek, op. cit., p. 111.


Caracalla , 211–217

19. >AKMA[ Plate III
Bust r., laureate with cuirass and paludamentum.
Rev. ]HΣAI NHΣ...
Female figure reclining l., in her r. hand palm, l. hand on bust, beneath, eagle flying r.; in field l. Γ
a) Berlin, 18 mm., 6.2 gr. = b) Paris, 19 mm.
> AKMA NT... [ PHΣAI [ ]N
20. ]KMA [ ]ΩNINO
Same die as No. 19.
Rev. PHΣA[
Similar to No. 19.
Vienna, 19 mm., 6.3 gr.
21. ]ANTΩNINO[ Plate III
Bust r., radiate with cuirass.
Rev. Same die as No. 20.
Berlin, 19 mm.
22. ]ANTΩ2NI[
Same die as No. 21.
Rev. ]HΣ AINHΣ...
Similar to No. 19; to r. and l. of head, traces of a veil.
a) BMC (Rhesaena) 1, Pl. XVIII, 1; 20 mm., 6.16 gr. = b) Hunterian Collection, 1.

It is uncertain whether the bust of the Emperor is bearded or not, but the attribution of these pieces to Caracalla is hardly doubtful; their whole appearance, especially the style of the reverse, seems to indicate that these are the earliest civic coins of Rhesaena. The reverse inscription, unlike the contemporary coins of Carrhae and Edessa, bears no title beyond the name of the city.

The female figure holds an uncertain object, perhaps reeds, 61 or ears of corn, 62 or a palm branch in her raised right hand. The figure seems to be clothed though only the veil of No. 22 is distinguishable. The object on which she leans her left hand, taken by Mionnet to be an overturned urn, and by Hill to be a rock, appears on close inspection to be a bust supported on the back of a spread eagle—undoubtedly the bust of the Emperor which frequently appears in this fashion in the East at this time. 63 In spite of the unusual position, the figure is probably Tyche; Hill's suggestion that she is the nymph of the Fons Scabore of the Tabula Peutingeriana is inconsistent with the bust on the eagle. No such picture of a nymph occurs in Mesopotamia at this period.

The letter on the reverse is always Γ, though Hill conjectures S on the London example. We know as little of its significance as we do of that of the Δ on the Vexillum-coins.

The fact that the laureate and radiate obverse portraits are struck with the same reverse die shows that no difference in value was signified by the style of bust.

The piece which Mionnet (V, p. 629, 185) quotes from Sestini with a seated Tyche and an eagle in the field is apparently a misread coin of Severus Alexander like our No. 35.

Awkward and barbarous as these coins are their character is entirely that of autonomous Greek issues without Roman influence.

End Notes
61 BMC Arabia , p. 125.
62 Mionnet, V, p. 629, 184.
63 Above, p. 18.

Elagabalus, 218–222

Youthful bust r., laureate with cuirass and paludamentum.
Sagittarius r., with bow, below in field Δ Berlin, 26 mm., ↓, 14.29 gr.
24. ]A ANTΩ[ Plate IV
Same die as No. 23.
Same type.
BMC p. 125, No. 4, Pl. XVIII, 4, 22 mm., 10.30 gr.

In fabric and style both these pieces resemble the first Rhesaena civic coins under Caracalla, but the relief is higher and the dies are more carefully cut than their predecessors or the succeeding issues under Severus Alexander.

The archer, here accompanied by no qualifying title or symbol, has in this case primarily a religious meaning to which his military character is subsidiary.

The coin of Elagabalus attributed to Rhesaena by Scholz, 64 which Hill considered very doubtful, has since been correctly attributed to Tyre by Kubitschek. 65

End Notes
64 Numismatische Zeitschrift, 1901, p. 48, no. 101.
65 Numismatische Zeitschrift, 1922, p. 160.

Severus Alexander, 222–235

25. AYTKM[ (AYTMAN legible from earlier die)
Bust l., laureate, shield on l. shoulder.
Rev. .HΣA INH (EΣΣA and Tyche seated l. legible from earlier die).
Tyche seated l. on rock with chiton, mural crown and veil; her l. hand on rock, on her r. hand eagle, at her feet, river god swimming l.
Berlin (under Caracalla) 28 mm.; ←, restruck.
Similar to No. 25; shield with large border and double volute.
Similar to No. 25.
BMC 5, Pl. XVIII, 5; ↑, 29 mm., 15.19 gr.; both sides show traces of restriking.
27. ΣAYTKMA [ (ΛPMO legible from earlier die). Plate IV
Similar to No. 26; the volute somewhat smaller.
Similar to No. 25.
Berlin (under Caracalla) ↓, 25 mm.; restruck.
28. ΣΛVIIMΛ (traces of inscription and laureate head r. visible from earlier die). Plate IV
Similar to No. 27 (same die?).
Rev. I ΣΛ IHNΣ (ΔEΣΣ and Tyche seated l. visible from earlier die)
Paris, 26 mm.; restruck.
29. Same die as No. 28, now cracked.
Similar to No. 28 (same die?).
BMC 8, ↓, 27 mm., 7.91 gr.
Similar to No. 25.
Rev. ..INNΣI ΩH LEG IIIPS (bust l. visible from earlier die).
Similar to No. 26; eagle smaller.
BMC 6; ↖, 27 mm., 9.21 gr.; restruck.
31. Inscription illegible (traces of Tyche seated l. visible from earlier die).
Similar to No. 26.
Rev. IIIOΛIIIHΣIΩ [ (MAΛΣΞ and laureate bust r. visible from earlier die).
Similar to No. 30.
BMC 7, ↑, 27 mm., 9.18 gr.
32. ] POΣΣEΛ (bust r. visible from earlier die). Plate IV
Similar to No. 30 but without shield.
Similar to No. 30.
Paris, ↗, 24 mm.; restruck.
33. ΛEΞΛNΔ.OΣΣ (traces of earlier die).
Same die as No. 32.
Similar to No. 26.
Berlin, ↘, 26 mm.; restruck.
Bust similar to No. 25, but radiate (?) and with shield.
Similar to No. 27.
Gotha (under Samosata), 26 mm.
35. ΛNΔPO ΣΣΔYT (NΛΣΛ visible from earlier die).
Bust r. laureate with paludamentum.
Similar to No. 26.
Paris, 26 mm.
36. Inscription illegible.
Same die as No. 35.
Similar to No. 30.
Paris, 26 mm.; restruck.
37. NANΔPOΣ (AYΣEAΛ and laureate head r. visible from earlier die). Plate V
Similar to No. 35 but larger head.
Similar to No. 29.
Naples, 25 mm., 10.38 gr.; restruck.
38. AYAΛ
Bust r., laureate in cuirass.
Similar to No. 31.
Berlin (under Caracalla) ↓, 24 mm.
Similar to No. 38.
Similar to No. 30.
Vienna, 25 mm., 8.4 gr.
Similar to No. 38.
Similar to No. 31.
Hunterian Catalogue 2, Pl. LXXIV, 16, 24 mm.
Bust r., laureate, in cuirass.
Similar to No. 31.
Collection Hollschek, Vienna, 25 mm., 9.2 gr.
42. OΣ ΣEI (?) (EΞAN, laureate head r. visible from earlier die). Plate V
Similar to No. 38.
Similar to No. 31.
Bust r., laureate.
Rev. HΣAINHΣIΩ H LG III PS (laureate head r. visible from earlier die).
Similar to No. 31.
Berlin, ↓, 27 mm.; restruck.
44. Similar to No. 42.
Similar to No. 31.
Berlin (under Caracalla), ↗, 23 mm.

The style and fabric of these coins leave much to be desired. There is great variety in the portrait of the Emperor, who is made to resemble Elagabalus or Caracalla or even Commodus but who never looks like the portrait on the imperial bronzes.

The complete reverse inscription was PHΣAINHΣIΩN LEG(IO) III P(arthica) S(everiana). Bilingual inscriptions are rare in ancient numismatics, but for this combination of the city name in Greek with the legion name in Latin there is an apt parallel in the Fresco of the Tribune at Dura where the personification of the city is labelled TYXH ΔOYPAΣ while the sacrificing officer is identified as IVL TERENTIVS TRIB (Plate XIV). The reverse inscriptions often contain errors and are sometimes so barbarous as to be unrecognizable. In particular, P appears as image, H as N or И, N as H, and sometimes both H and N are written simply II.

These errors are partly responsible for a number of false attributions. A coin with the legion's name and the addition of PIA (written in full) is mentioned by Hill as "supported by several writers." 66 On none of the examples here listed can this reading be confirmed or even made probable, so that for the present we must regard its existence as doubtful. Also the legend LEG III GAL cannot be proved for coins of Alexander or, indeed, for any Rhesaena coins. 67 Mionnet's first piece belongs to Sidon 68 or Tyre. 69 His second is indeed a coin of Severus Alexander from Rhesaena, but all of our coins, as we have seen, are so badly preserved that it seems to me more than probable that here too we have a misreading. 70 The coin described by Mionnet (V, p. 630, 190) with a founding scene without the vexillum is a coin of Decius (perhaps our No. 124) or of Herennius Etruscus. All of these uncertainties in attribution are due to the great differences in the portraits, the poor preservation, and the faulty or incomplete inscriptions.

The seated female figure on the reverse is the τύχη πόλεως, the tutelary goddess and at the same time personification of the city, 71 together with the river god Chaboras. The Hellenistic-Semitic cult of Tyche was wide spread in the East. We find it in all of Syria and the bordering lands such as Trachonitis, Batanea, Hauran, Palmyra and Commagene as well as in Mesopotamia—that is, wherever Semitic and Arab tribes lived. 72 In the time to which our coins belong it was growing more universal and dominant. Among the many Tychae, that from Antioch on the Orontes especially was early widely known, owing largely to a statue by the sculptor Eutychides (Plate XV). Antioch copied this on her coinage and in this, as in many other respects, was imitated by her neighbors. 73

Usually the City Goddess holds corn or fruit in her right hand as a symbol of fertility. Sometimes it is a palm, 74 and, in the case of Edessa, she holds a temple. 75 At Rhesaena she holds an eagle and we shall not be far wrong if we explain the eagle as a symbol of Roman domination and of the Roman army. Its association with the Tyche of the city indicates that Roman troops were quartered within the walls, which is confirmed by the legend on the coins. Eagle and legion insignia show that the garrison was important, and strengthen the theory that Rhesaena was the headquarters of the Third Parthian Legion. An exact parallel is to be found in the combination of Tyche and eagle on the coins of Samosata, which was the headquarters of the Legio XVI Flavia. 76

One peculiarity is common to the coins of Severus Alexander here described and shows that they belong to a single group: the autonomous pieces, but not the Vexillum-coins, were restruck; that is, other coins were used as flans, and, as the striking was very careless, parts of the original type and inscriptions are often still visible. Nos. 25 and 28, on which part of the legend of Edessa is legible, and No. 31, which shows traces of a seated Tyche, prove, as we should expect, that the coins used were Mesopotamian, while on Nos. 31, 37 and 42 the inscription of the earlier die is that of Alexander. This, of course, makes it certain that our group of coins belongs to Alexander and that contemporary pieces were used for restriking. This phenomenon used to be explained on the theory that the coins were local issues, valid only in the territory of the mint city. But the evidence from Dura is conclusive that the coins of all the neighboring Mesopotamian cities, Edessa, Carrhae, Nesibis, Singara and Rhesaena, were current there and hence circulated outside their own territory. If in Rhesaena under Severus Alexander coins were restruck which were still current, then the urgent reason must lie in haste to produce the necessary Rhesaena coins. This kind of minting resulted in a primitive and inadequate city coinage. The citizens did not have the proper equipment for producing flans from crude metal; when faced with a sudden scarcity of coins they chose (or were forced to choose) the expedient of restriking the coins of neighboring cities regardless of whether they carried the portrait of the reigning Emperor or of one of his predecessors.

The comparatively good style and better workmanship of Alexander's Vexillum-coins, which are not overstruck, suggest that they were minted in peaceful times, presumably in the first years of the reign, while the crude and hasty civic issues belong to the period of the Persian war when the Emperor himself, having taken command in Palmyra, advanced with the middle Roman division obliquely across Mesopotamia through Rhesaena to the Tigris. 77

In choosing Rhesaena as headquarters for the Legio III Parthica the Romans were not influenced solely by its character as a border fortress; its proximity to Edessa was also a factor, for from Rhesaena the legion could watch over that untrustworthy kingdom as the III Gallica did over the holy city of Emisa or the X Fretensis over Jerusalem from the time of the Flavians.

End Notes
66 Mionnet, V, p. 630, 188. This piece may be identical with our No. 32. Of the PIA only the P shows; the rest of the word would be made of the Tyche's hand or perhaps from the rock on which she leans. Cf. Eckhel, III, p. 518 (quoting Pellerin, Mélanges de diverses Médailles. Paris, 1765, I, p. 348) and VIII, 489.
67 Pellerin, Mélanges, I, p. 351; Eckhel, III, p. 519; Mionnet (who discards the reading), V, pp. 629f, 186 and 187 (both according to Vaillant). Cf. Hill, Journal of Roman Studies, IV, 1916, p. 166, and later BMC, Arabia , p. cx, note 3, where this legend is called "discredited."
68 E.g., BMC, Phoenicia, p. 195, No. 301. We should also correct Eckhel (III, 371, and VIII, 489) who reads LEG III PAR on coins of Elagabalus and Faustina Jr. from Sidon. From this Ritterling (op. cit., col. 1539) assumes the possibility of a settlement of veterans of the III Parthian Legion in Sidon and Chapot (La frontière de l'Euphrate, p. 77) agrees. It seems to me more probable that here too, owing to the usually poor preservation of these coins, there is a misreading, and that the correct inscription is LEG III GAL.
69 BMC, Phoenicia, p. 274, Nos. 394–5.
70 The coin described by him seems to be like our No. 28, but on none of our examples does the Emperor hold a lance in his right hand.
71 See above, pp. 28f.
72 The literature on Tyche is uncommonly rich; here we shall only mention Roscher, Ausführliches Lexicon der griechischen und römischen Mythologie, s.v.; Humann und Puchstein, Reisen in Kleinasien und Nordsyrien, 258ff.; Maas, Tagesgötter, 239ff.; Cumont, Etudes Syriennes, pp. 263–270. See also Domaszewski, Rheinisches Museum, 58 (1903), p. 543.
73 Cf., Bellinger, The Eighth and Ninth Dura Hoards, pp. 2–8.
74 BMC, Galatia, Pl. XX, 10, 13.
75 BMC, Arabia , Pl. XVI, 1, 2.
76 BMC, Galatia, pp. 120f, nos. 38–49, p. 133, Nos. 61–66; Ritterling, op. cit., col. 1766.


In the time between the death of Severus Alexander and the accession of Decius, notable changes took place in the fortunes of Rhesaena as well as of other Mesopotamian cities.

When Maximinus (235–238) was proclaimed successor to Alexander at Mainz, part of the Roman forces—the cavalry and archers from Osrhoene—revolted and set up a rival emperor. 78 The revolt was suppressed, but Maximinus' interest was devoted to the northern provinces of the empire. Mesopotamia and Syria were thereby laid open to increasingly dangerous attacks of the Persians. Nesibi and Carrhae were both lost 79 and Dura was threatened. 80 The administration of Edessa as a Roman colony was discontinued at this time and the kingdom under the native dynasty reëstablished. 81 At this time, too, a revolution took place in Palmyra which, through the conquests of Ardashir and Shapur I as well as the loss of its trade routes, was forced into a Persophile policy. 82 What happened to Rhesaena, which lay still nearer the border, we are not told, but from the fate of the other Mesopotamian cities we may conclude that it also fell into Persian hands. There are no coins of Maximinus from our city, nor from any other Mesopotamian mint nor from Antioch.

Under Gordian III (238–244) conditions in Mesopotamia improved for the Romans. The Emperor himself conducted the war against the Persians, and achieved victories at Carrhae, Rhesaena and Nesibi. The military colony of Edessa was reëstablished and Abgar X deposed in 242. The mints of Carrhae, Nesibis and Singara were reopened. Only from Rhesaena do we find no coins of Gordian, from which we may conclude that this colony was the only one which was not yet reinstated in its former position. Under Gordian's murderer and successor, Philip the Arab (244–249), the only coins of our province which we know are from Nesibi.

At the accession of the energetic Illyrian Decius, a ruler mounted the throne of the Caesars who, in spite of his provincial origin, had an old Roman character and conservative ideas. His political program was expressed in his adoption of the name of the great Trajan, renowned for his friendship with the Senate. The new reign is famous for the fierce battle with the barbarians on the lower Danube; about internal affairs we hear of extensive reorganization, but unfortunately our information is much too slight and too general. Under Decius only the mints of Edessa and Rhesaena were active in our district, and at his death they too closed—the last Roman mints in Mesopotamia.

These last colonial issues of the province are very dissimilar. Edessa struck only one type of small bronze, 83 weighing ca. 4.4 gr. and with a diameter of ca. 16–18 mm., unimportant and miserable pieces. They show a crude portrait of the emperor; the bust of Tyche on the reverse and the inscriptions are cut by the same inexpert hand. The coins of Rhesaena form a great contrast, far superior not only to the contemporary coins of Edessa but also to the earlier Rhesaena coinage. There are six clearly marked successive issues of the largest denomination and two smaller denominations. So rich and uniform, yet varied a series is found nowhere else in Mesopotamia at any time. It is surprising how carefully and clearly executed all of these late pieces are, especially the last issues; better, one might almost say, than the imperial coins. The squarish flans which appear commonly on the latter at this time are not found at Rhesaena. Here the flans are not cast nor made by cutting up a metal band and breaking off the corners to get an approximate circle (a method still in use in the Middle Ages), but by the much more expedient method of stamping them out from a band or sheet of metal. Here also an effort at exact portraiture is made; many dies are the work not only of a trained but a gifted hand. The size of the flans and dies is uniform, the striking is well centered and the relation of obverse to reverse is fixed.


On all of the coins of Rhesaena from this time the inscriptions are agreeably arranged, the letters in general carefully cut and evenly space. Blundered inscriptions are extremely rare. I could find only two cases where letters were omitted, in No. 122: ΣEΠ KOΛ PΣAINHΣIΩN L III P and No. 133: ΣEΠ OΛ PHΣAINHΣIΩN L III P; the blundered name of the empress does not belong here. Among 35 obverses and 17 reverses, in all 152 different dies, this is surely a small number, indicating most careful workmanship. In Nesibis and Singara, too, there has been but a single lapsus scalptoris found so far.

Both the obverse and reverse inscriptions appear in various forms, from which a definite order and sequence is recognizable. By far the most numerous of the large coins with the portrait of the emperor have the obverse inscription in two principal forms. One AVT(οκράτωρ) KAI(σαρ) ΓAI(ος) MEΣ(σιος) KY(ίυτος) TPA (ιαυὸς) ΔEKIOΣΣEB(αστός) on Nos. 45–79, 90–93, 120–124 in large letters, together with that type of imperial portrait which we shall later call "Bust" or obverse A, B, C, E and F. This inscription, for the sake of simplicity, we shall call the "short" form; also occasionally it is somewhat altered, namely, AYTKΓMEKYTPAIANOΣ ΔEKIOΣ ΣEB combined with obverse C (see Nos. 81–83, 94, 103–105, 133–135).

On the greater part of the coins the name of the emperor does not appear in the above mentioned "short" form but as AYT(οκράτωρ) K(αῖσαρ) Γ(άιος) ME(σσιος) KY(ίυτος) ΔEKIOΣ TPAIA-NOΣ ΣEB(αστός) (Nos. 80,84–89,95–102, 106–119, 125–132, 136–144); this second form with Traianus at the end of the name we shall call the "longer" obverse inscription. It is associated with busts B, C and D. Aside from the wording this second inscription differs from the first in being written in smaller, more attractive letters. In all, the coins of Decius fall into two groups according to the obverse inscription; those with the "short" name and larger letters and those with the "longer" name in small letters.

The reverse inscriptions, in general uniform, can also be divided into two groups. One part has: ΣEΠ (τιμία) PHΣAINHΣIΩN L(egio) III P(arthica) (on Nos. 45–79, 157–168) and this form, also in larger letters, we shall again call the "shorter" (reverse) inscription. The other coins read: ΣEΠ-(τιμία) KOΛ(ωυία) PHΣAINHΣIΩN L(egio) III P(arthica) (see Nos. 80–144, 169–192); the longer inscription is again in smaller letters, and here is added the colonial title. Both times, however, we find the two languages which we earlier noted on the coins of Severus Alexander, that is, the legion name in Latin and city's name and colonial title in Greek. The combination is unusual; other cities, such as Carrhae, in similar circumstances use purely Latin inscriptions with longwinded titles. At all events the language question in Mesopotamia does not seem to have been simple. Of the hundreds of colonial cities there are only ten whose coins invariably give the city name and colonial title in Greek. Of these eight lie in the Hellenized East, five of them in Mesopotamia. 84

Comparing the obverse inscriptions with the reverse on our coins, we find that in general the short obverse inscription is combined with the short reverse, and, conversely, the longer obverse is usually associated with the longer reverse inscription, making the two following principal groups:






There are also a few coins where the short obverse written in large letters is combined with the long reverse inscription in small letters. The two principal, and in themselves quite uniform, groups are unquestionably separate in time. Before, however, we take up the question of which is the earlier, we shall consider the inscription on the other large bronzes.

The name of the empress, Herennia Cupressenia Etruscilla, is always abbreviated on our coins to 'Eρεννία 'Eτρουσκίλλα. The second part is often very corrupted and we find: 1) EPENNIAN AITPΩΣKIΛΛAN (Nos. 157, 161, 162, 164); 2) ΩTPAΣKAΛΛAN (Nos. 158–160, 163, 165); 3) EPENNI(αν) ATPOYΣKIΛΛAN ΣEB(αστήν)(Nos. 166, 167).

These forms appear only with the short reverse inscription; they belong, therefore, all to one group. We have here the accusative; on the other coins the names are always in the nominative case. The correct form of the empress' name appears in: 4) EPENNIA ETPOYΣKIΛΛA ΣEB(αστή) (Nos. 169–177) and occurs only on coins with the longer reverse inscription. So the coins of the empress also fall into two groups corresponding to those of the emperor. In the one the name varies:


The second is regularly:



The coins with the portrait of Herennius, the older son of Decius (no coins in Rhesaena were struck for the younger, Hostilianus) call him ΓAI(ος) MEΣ-(σιος)EP(έννιος)ETPOYΣKIΛΛIOΣ ΔEKIOΣΣEB-(αστός) (Nos. 178–180), always combined with the longer reverse inscription in small letters, corresponding to the second group of coins for the emperor and empress. This name for the heir is incorrect and one of the many variations which occurred in the provinces for the correct name, Quintus Herennius Etruscus Messius Decius. The correct form of the name appears on the coins where he is associated with his father, which are earlier than those issued for him alone. On the coins for Herennius alone (issue "e") his correct name was no longer used although it was certainly known from issue "d." 85

Also the joint coins fall in the same second group. The emperor and his wife are called: AYT(οκράτωρ) K(αῖσαρ) ΓA(ιος) ME(σσιος) K(υίντος) TPA(ιανὸς) ΔEKIOΣ ΣEB(αστὸς) EPEN (νία) ETPOYCKIΛΛA ΣEB(αστή) (Nos. 181–184) on which the correct name of the empress appears. The emperor and his heir are called AYT(οκράτωρ) K(αῖσαρ) Γ(άιος) M(έσσιος) K(υίντος) TP(αιανὸς) ΔEKIOΣ ΣEB-(αστὸς) KY(ίντος) EP(έννιος) ETP(ουσκίλλιος) M(έσσιος) ΔEKIOΣ KAIΣAP (Nos. 185–192). All of these coins are combined with the longer reverse inscription and have small letters on both sides.

What is the chronological sequence of the various forms of Decius' name on coins outside of Rhesaena? According to Mattingly-Salisbury 86 the antoniniani of our ruler have three forms of obverse legend:


given here in their chronological order.

Wittig ("C. Messius Quintus Traianus Decius," Pauly-Wissowa-Kroll, Real Encyclopädie, XV, 1, cols. 1244–48) gives the following order for the variants in the names and titles of Decius:

  • Imp. Caes. C. Messius Quintus (Wittig III)
  • Imp. Caes. C. Messius Quintus Decius Traianus (Wittig II)
  • Imp. Caes. C. Messius Quintus Traianus Decius (Wittig I)

Of these there appear on the coins of Rhesaena, as we have seen, the forms (2) and (3). The form (2) (Wittig II) corresponds to our longer inscription; form (3) (Wittig I) corresponds to the shorter. From a consideration of the various reverse types there are a number of reasons, as we shall see, which force us to assume that the shorter reverse legend is the earlier, and the longer, the later, just the opposite from Wittig. 87 We now come, through a comparison of the various obverses of Decius ("A"–"F"), of Etruscilla ("G"–"I"), of Herennius ("K"), and of the joint coins ("L," "M") on the one hand, and sequence of reverses ("a"–"f") on the other, to the following review: (See Table 3.)

According to this the large coins of Rhesaena under Decius, judged by the reverse legend, fall into two principal groups:

Group 1. (reverses a-c) Inscription in larger letters.
Shorthand form of the emperor's name.
Name of the empress blundered.
Shorter reverse inscription.
Coins for Herennius and joint coins missing.
Group 2. (reverses d–f) Inscription in smaller letters. 88
Longer form of emperor's name. 88
Correct name for empress.
Longer reverse inscription.
Coins for Herennius.
Joint coins for Decius and Etruscilla, and for Decius and Herennius.

In the discussion of the portraits and the reverse types we shall come upon further characteristic differences.

End Notes
84 Head, Historia Numorum 2, p. 932: Thessalonica, Tyana, Antioch on the Orontes, Emisa, Philippopolis Arabiae, Carrhae, Edessa, Nesibi, Rhesaena, Singara.
85 Mionnet's description of a piece with ETPOYΣ KOENTOΣ (V, p. 635, 212) rests on an easily recognizable misreading.
86 "A find of Roman coins from Plevna," Numismatic Chronicle, 1924, pp. 219f.
87 Wittig also points to the later appearance of Formula II (op. cit., col. 1248): "In anderen Städten behauptet sich Gruppe II zäher, ohne dass wir genau feststellen könnten, wann die einzelnen Münzen geschlagen sind. Das Verhältnis ist wie folgt:
Stadt Anzahl der Münzen Gruppe I Gruppe II
Tarsus (Cilicia) 10 10
Maeonia (Lydia) 1 1
Antioch (Syria) 9 4 5
Rhesaena (Mesop.) 9 7 2
Ephesus (Ionia) 4 1 3
It would be interesting to determine the chronological sequence from the dies for the other cities listed here by Wittig.Wittig's Formula IV does not appear at Rhesaena.

Imperial Portraits

As we mentioned earlier, the portraits on these coins of Rhesaena are cut with a care not practiced earlier in Mesopotamia. It is most noticeable in the high relief similar to that on imperial coins, and in the careful modeling and striving for naturalism. Finally they remind us that the die-cutters of imperial times in all probability used portrait busts as models for their coins, both in the capital and in the provinces. The portrait busts which were always sent out 89 to the provinces from the capital or residence city at the accession of a new Emperor were at the disposal of the provincial die-cutter. Before these busts arrived, that is at the beginning of a new reign, the portraits on the new coins are uncertain and even the imperial coins frequently resemble the former ruler. This variety and uncertainty in the emperor's likeness is noticeable here too in the first issue.

Like the sculptor and die-cutter of imperial coins (Plate VI, A, B), the Rhesaena artist—from his finished work he deserves this name—portrayed the emperor with strongly protruding, slightly hooked nose, with deep-set eyes, often drawn in great detail, and with the characteristic lines about the mouth, the cheeks and especially the forehead, the latter slightly receding; on the temples and at the back of the neck short-cut thick hair is visible. The chin is round and energetic. All in all, an excellent portrait of the emperor who was then in his sixtieth year. 90 Naturally not all of the portraits here are equally good. Especially does the portrait vary, as we have mentioned, on the coins of the first group with short legend and large letters; the coins of the second group with longer inscription and more elegant lettering are more uniform and offer certain dies which can be compared favorably with the Imperial coins (Plate VI, B). 91

We shall designate the different types of portrait with capital letters.

Obverse A: Bust right, laureate, cloak on left shoulder, seen from back

Obverse B: Bust right, laureate, paludamentum and cuirass, seen from back

Obverse C: Bust right, radiate, paludamentum and cuirass, seen from back

Obverse D: Bust right, radiate, paludamentum and cuirass, seen from front

Obverse E: Bust left, radiate, paludamentum and cuirass, seen from front

Obverse F: Bust left, laureate, paludamentum and cuirass, seen from front

Diagrammatically these can be expressed as follows:

To the right To the left
From the back From the Front
Laureate Radiate Laureate
Not clothed With paludamentum and cuirass

We now know, as we have already remarked, six different, successive issues of the coins of Decius at Rhesaena, which are distinguished by their reverse types. It has now been ascertained that of the obverse types A–F just described, in each of the six issues usually several obverses were used contemporaneously; we find as many as four obverses in one and the same issue, that is, with the same reverse type. Moreover, as die comparisons prove, in the different issues new obverses were not cut for the new reverse types but obverse dies of earlier issues continued in use. So we often find identical obverse dies used with two different reverse types, and single, particularly lasting obverses with as many as three reverses. It is clear that such issues as are struck with the same obverse are closely related in time, and probably followed immediately one after the other. If an obverse die used in several issues was very much worn, then, as can frequently be proved, it was not simply thrown out, but was recut and used again; only when completely worn out was it replaced by a new one which naturally preserved the same obverse type. Later we shall follow the single dies of our obverse types A–F more closely through the six issues.

What we have said about the portrait of the emperor is also true of that of the empress. In general carefully cut, it also varied in the first group (with blundered name and short reverse inscription). In the second group, with the correct name and longer legend in smaller letters, we find a fixed portrait, which agrees with that on the imperial coins (Plate VI, C). By the style of hair-dressing and attributes, the busts can be divided into three types:

Obverse G: Bust right, draped, wearing stephane, and braid brought forward over the crown of head, on crescent

Obverse H: Bust right, draped, wearing stephane

Obverse I: Bust right, draped, wearing stephane, on crescent

The coins of Herennius show:

Obverse K: Bust right, laureate, paludamentum and cuirass, seen from back; corresponding to the emperor's type B. Of good workmanship, the portrait of the twenty-year old young man shows a certain family likeness.

The joint coins of the emperor and empress, also those with the heir, naturally, owing to the much smaller size of the portraits, cannot show the same amount of character and detail. Nevertheless, here too we find similarly full modeling and an effort to reproduce the individual features. Emperor and empress appear together on:

Obverse L: Facing each other are the busts of the emperor (C), right, and the empress (I), left. The last of the obverse types is:

Obverse M: The busts of the emperor (D), to right, and of Herennius (K), head bare, to left, facing each other.

End Notes
88 The pieces with the obverse "E," on which the old obverse die (from Group 1) was used, are exceptions.
89 Domaszewski in Rheinisches Museum, 58 (1903) p. 389, has cited two documents for just this period. The one passage is from Herodian VIII 6, 2. The second document is the inscription Bull. de Corresp. Hell. 1886, 227 = I.G.R.R. III, 481 = Dessau 8870; quoted also by Rostovtzeff, Gesellschaft und Wirtschaft, II, p. 364, note 24.
90 Wittig, op. cit., col. 1250. The sculpture mentioned there, the admirable bust in the Capitoline Museum, (Plate VI, A) Helbig, Führer durch die öffentlichen Sammlungen klassischer Altertümer in Rom, Leipzig, 1912–13, I. p. 455, was identified from the coins. Delbrück, Antike Porträts LXVII; Stückelberg, Die Bildnisse der römischen Kaiser, Pl. 98.
91 See e.g. our No. 133 and also Bernhart, Handbuch zur Münzkunde Pl. 16, Nos. 7, 8; a less good example in Imhoof-Blumer, Porträtköpfe auf römischen Münzen, Leipzig, 1892, Pl. III, 78; Gnecchi, Medaglioni Rom., III, Pl. 161, 1–4.

End Notes

77 Bosch showed in Archäologischer Anzeiger, 1931, I–II, cols. 426f., that most of the cities in Asia Minor that put military signa on their coins lay on the main roads and struck them under Emperors who carried on wars in the East, and that these coins have a direct connection with troop movements and mustering in the Parthian wars.
78 Herodian VII. 1. 9. Maximinus may have been prefect of Mesopotamia (Niese-Hohl, Grundriss der römischen Geschichte 5, 1923, p. 369, note 3) or dux ripae (J. F. Gilliam, "The Dux Ripae at Dura," TAPA, 1941, pp. 172f.).
79 Yale Classical Studies, V, p. 145.
80 Dura Rep. IV, pp. 112–114.
81 Yale Classical Studies, V, p. 146.
82 Cumont, Fouilles de Doura, p. lix.
83 BMC Arabia , pp. 117f., Nos. 166–172, Pl. XVII, 5. 6.


The large coins

There are six issues bearing the following types:

  • Tyche seated left
  • Temple with roof
  • Temple without roof
  • Concordia
  • Founder scene
  • Fortuna standing

Each issue was struck for a certain time, then it was replaced by another. 92 Because of numerous die-pairs we are able to determine the exact sequence, as shown in Table IV where the obverse dies are numbered A1 to M1, the reverse a1 to f23. The total of 35 obverse and 117 reverse dies shows that, as usual, the life of the obverse die, fixed in the anvil, was greater than that of the reverse which received the full force of the blow in being struck.

In spite of a relatively abundant coinage, the mint of Rhesaena under Decius seems to have been a single establishment. It was, indeed, only a small local mint, quite different from Antioch where under Philip they began to distinguish the officinae by marking the obverse dies. 93 Yet it is to be noted that on the coins of Etruscilla, Herennius and the joint portraits, that is, for obverses I, K, L, and M the second period, the same reverse die appears with different obverses:

  • d13 with I13 and M1
  • d15 with I4 and M1
  • e33 with K1 and L1
  • f21 with I3 and L1

None of these occurs with an obverse of Decius though in the earlier issues obverses of Decius and of Etruscilla use the same reverse die:

  • al with B1 and G1
  • b1 with A1 and G1
  • b3 with A3, B1 and G1
  • c2 with C1 and H1

Perhaps in the later issues, one part of the officina was used for the coins of Decius, another for the rest.

First Period

Type a

Tyche, wearing turreted crown, veil, chiton, and mantle, seated left on a rock, in her right hand ears of corn, her left resting on the rock; above, an eagle, with outstretched neck, standing left holding a filleted wreath in its beak; at her feet the half figure of a river-god swimming left.

It has already been suggested, in the discussion of the inscriptions, that the types bearing the short form are earlier in date than those with the long form. The reverses with the short inscription (a–c) are here classed as belonging to the First Period, those with the long inscription (d–f) to the Second. This division is corroborated by the dies shown in Table IV.

Type a is connected with Mesopotamian coins before the Persian invasion and parallels earlier coins of Nisibis and Singara. Nothing is more likely than that when beginning to coin in the name of a new ruler the mint, not having any other particular model, used a common and accessible type. Moreover, the following issues are so bound together through die-couplings that they cannot well be separated, and a must be put at the beginning of the series. In at least one characteristic detail this representation is distinguished from its predecessors in Mesopotamia: the native constellation has lost its place above the head of the Tyche, this place now being usurped by the Roman eagle which earlier, on the coins of Severus Alexander, the goddess held in her right hand. As the bird of the highest of Roman national gods and as the symbol of the Roman legions who dedicated their temples to him, the eagle on this and the later issues from Rhesaena assumes the function of the autochthonous symbols. Rome's legions, and no longer a local god, are responsible for the protection of the city. The rôle of Sagittarius as an independent coin type is over; he appears only once more and then as a modest symbol. Thus in these eastern coins we recognize the tendencies of the reign of Decius to shut out the foreign gods, to elevate the state cult, and to strengthen the religion of the fathers. 94

On one coin (No. 52) we find on each side of the seated figure a star (eight-pointed?) which, like the goddess herself, is reminiscent of older native prototypes. 95 Perhaps these stars emphasize the meaning of Tyche as the "Gad," the tutelary deity of the city. 96

Type b

Temple left seen in perspective, showing façade and right side, having roof on which an acroterion is sometimes visible; in pediment a bust (?); within the temple, eagle with closed wings seated left; in exergue, between two palm branches, half figure of River-god.

Judging by the number of specimens preserved, the output was increased with issue b. Obverse dies B and C of the emperor continued in use. A appears as a new obverse type with this issue only; F is continued with type c. We know of no pieces with E, but it is reasonable to assume that they exist. On coins of the empress we find the obverse die of issue a again. Herennius has no coins of this type, nor are there any joint coins with this reverse. There are 11 reverse dies of type b.

The work of two hands can be distinguished. One temple (Nos. 53–55, 56, 59) is very poorly drawn with steep roof and one step; the number of columns varies from 4 to 7; the eagle, seen from the side, appears behind the first column. The second, and presumably later, representation (Nos. 57, 60–62) shows the temple with 5 or 6 columns with flat roof and two steps: the eagle seen more from the front; everything in finer, more careful drawing. The same improved workmanship recurs on the next issue, c, with the roofless temple.

In the eastern part of the Roman Empire, representations of temples often occur on coins. In Mesopotamia, aside from Rhesaena, the type is used at Carrhae, 97 Edessa, 98 and Nisibis. 99 Among these the front view of the façade is most common; on our pieces the die-cutter tried a perspective with less success than the temple on the coins of Heliopolis of Septimius Severus and Philip. 100

We may assume that our temple is the sanctuary of the standard of the legionary camp or of some other official Roman cult in Rhesaena. We can draw no conclusion as to the size of the building; it might be only a modest chapel. The cult statue, which a few years earlier in Nisibis was still the native Tyche, is here the symbol of Rome, the eagle, doubtless representing the emblem of the legion, which together with the portrait of the emperor and other military standards, was worshipped in the camp sanctuary. 101

Type c

Temple similar to b, usually on two steps; five to six columns, but without roof; pediment open, therefore without bust.

Obverse A no longer occurs. B and F are each used once with this reverse; C and E are plentiful. The coins of the empress are struck in part with die H1 and in part with G1, which shows a crescent behind the shoulders of the empress. The former has the inscription EPENNIAN ΩTPAΣKAΛΛAN ΣEB, the latter EPENNIAN AITPΩΣKIΛΛAN ΣEB. Besides these, two new dies, I1 and I2, come into use. The former has the third blundered name: EPENNITPOVΣKIΛΛA ΣEBA; the latter has the name correctly for the first time: EPENNIA ETPOVΣKIΛΛA ΣEB. There are no issues for this reverse for Herennius or with joint portraits.

The same die, c2, is used for the emperor (No. 66) and for his wife (No. 165) and c3 is combined with two different obverses of the emperor (Nos. 67 and 75).

These three first reverse types are connected not only by the reverse inscription, but also by the fact that the portraits of the emperor and his wife are varied and inaccurate, as distinguished from the uniformity of the second group, d, e, and f. In the first group the portrait of Decius sometimes shows great similarity to Philip, his immediate predecessor; compare type E or the first dies of C with the imperial coins of Philip's last years. This is an im- portant point in determining which of the groups was earlier. Obviously at the time of the first issue for the new emperor there was as yet no authentic portrait of him available. This was imported later, perhaps only in time to serve as a model for the fourth issue, d.

Often the portraits in the first group are clumsily cut, while the awkward drawing of the temple and the stiff figures of the seated goddess show a marked difference from the fine execution of d, e, and f.

To this should be added the fact that the dies used in the first group, often with different reverses, all disappear in the second group with the exception of E1, which still continued in use in issues d and e, thereby giving certain proof of the connection. The absence of coins for Herennius and of joint coins and the uncertain and erroneous forms of Etruscilla's name all point to the priority of the group consisting of a, b, and c.

End Notes
93 Bellinger, The Sixth, Seventh and Tenth Dura Hoards p. 16.
94 Wittig, op. cit., cols. 1279f.
95 BMC, Arabia , Edessa, Pl. XV, 10, 11, 13, 14; XVI, 1–3.
96 Cumont, Fouilles de Doura, p. 98, note 1.
97 Hunterian Collection, p. 301, No. 2, Pl. LXXVIII, 24 (Sept. Severus).
98 Ibid., p. 304, Nos. 1 and 2, Pl. LXXVII, 30, 31; BMC, Arabia , pp. 91f, Nos. 2, 3, Pl. XII, 7, 8 (Wael); as attribute on pp. 101f, Nos. 69–71; p. 103, No. 79; pp. 109f., Nos. 115–121 (Elagabalus, Severus Alexander and Julia Mamaea).
99 BMC, Arabia , pp. 122–124, Nos. 17–25 (Philip) and Nos. 27–32 (Otacilla).
100 BMC, Galatia, p. 290, Nos. 2–4, Pl. XXXVI, 2, p. 293, Nos. 18–20, Pl. XXXVI, 7.
101 For other representations of the eagle on Eastern coins, see BMC, Galatia, Laodicea ad Mare, p. 260, Nos. 95f., Pl. XXX, 14, p. 262, No. 111, Pl. XXXI, 7. The two birds on a coin of Damascus are also surely eagles, ibid., p. 287, No. 26, Pl. XXXV, 3, where the description of Wroth (followed by Head in Historia Numorum 2, p. 784) reads "a wicker or wire cage through the open door of which a cock emerges." At Emesa, ibid., p. 239, No. 15, Pl. XXVII, 12, the eagle may be connected with Elagabal (ibid., p. lxv). At Philadelphia, BMC, Lycaonia, p. 127, Nos. 1f., Pl. XXIII, 1, it may be connected with Zeus (ibid., p. lxiii).

Second Period

Type d

Two female figures standing, joining right hands, each wearing turreted crown, chiton and mantle, between them a lighted altar, usually in the form of a column; beside the right-hand figure, the Centaur Sagittarius shooting his bow, springing right; beside the left-hand figure, a statue, to right on a column; in the field above, eagle with spread wings and filleted wreath in beak; in exergue, half figure of River-god swimming or a wreath between two palms.

Obverse E with its single die used in the preceding issues is continued with d and e though they use the long inscription formula while E has the short one. Obverse B, on the other hand, here appears for the last time with a new inscription. According to type it belongs to the first group, according to inscription to the second. Both these obverses may be considered transitional, and proof that d is the earliest issue of the second group. C is now the principal obverse type of Decius, appearing with completely new and occasionally excellently cut dies. Together with D, which here appears for the first time, it continues in use in the following issue. Etruscilla's types G and H now disappear while I has new dies I3 and I4. With reverse d now begin joint coins of the emperor and his elder son who is here still called KAIΣAP. This obverse, M1, continues with the succeeding reverse e, so that the title KAIΣAP occurs contemporaneously with coins on which Herennius is already ΣEBAΣTOΣ.

In Table IV we have labelled this reverse "Concordia," but not in the sense of Concordia as a single personification, as she appears so often on Roman imperial coins. In both of the female figures with turreted crowns we must recognize definite City-goddesses, who, under the protection of the Roman eagle, celebrate and strengthen their concord, the όμόνοια τυχῶν before the altar, "se donnant la main pour figurer symboliquement l'entente cordiale de ces cités," as Cumont says. 102 The figure on the right is characterized by Sagittarius and is recognizable as the City-goddess of Rhesaena. Who is the other Tyche? Beside her, on a column, is a small male figure in a bent position who seems to carry something on his shoulder. A similar figure is found on coins both of Carrhae 103 and of Edessa, 104 for which reason there is uncertainty in naming the second goddess. 105 The figure has been identified as Aquarius by Macdonald, 106 and as Marsyas by Hill. 107 It seems to me impossible from the evidence of the coins alone, to make any certain identification. We must content ourselves with the fact that this little figure of type d in Rhesaena is almost exactly like that on the Edessa coins of Gordian III. Principally because of the importance of that city in which the Roman colonia had been reestablished in 242, 108 and which was the only other Mesopotamian mint to strike for Decius, 109 I should like to agree with Hill and see in the second city-Goddess of type d the Tyche of Edessa.

For the combination of City-goddesses we can cite a parallel at Dura: the mural, repeatedly referred to, which depicts the sacrifice of the Roman tribune Julius Terentius 110 where the tutelary goddesses of Dura and Palmyra are seated opposite one another, again under the protection of Rome (Plate XIV). The fresco and coins both give us a deep insight into the relations of Mesopotamia under Roman domina- tion; they show us the leading factors in the public and spiritual life of the religious and temporal powers.

In other respects our coins have their parallel in the Homonoia and Alliance coins of Asia Minor cities. 111 A distinguishing mark of the Rhesaena coinage is the introduction of the eagle, which brings the characteristic official Roman note into the picture: "the union of two important cities under the protection of Rome," or as we could say more correctly in Mesopotamia "for the protection of Rome." The intention was the unity and harmony of the troops, soldiers and veterans, who were stationed in the garrisons and colonies of both cities and throughout the province, the union and discipline of the army. The efforts at reorganization of Decius, who at the beginning of his reign was known as "reparator disciplinae militaris," will have extended in this direction as well. 112

A representation is used here for the last time, which decades earlier played its part on the Rhesaena coins: Sagittarius. Here it only serves as an attribute of the City-goddess, with which its rôle as a coin type in Mesopotamia ends. On Roman coinage it appears only once again under Gallienus, where, stripped of its Oriental, un-Roman character and transferred to the Graeco-Roman sphere, it is found on coins of the Legio II Parthica (Plate II, D, E).

The pose of the figures on this issue is calm and dignified, but also extraordinarily natural, almost elegant. All figures, goddesses and attributes as well, are drawn with simple but remarkably sure lines, with a mastery of the graver far above that shown on any other coins of Mesopotamia. On many of the reverses the secondary elements are drawn carefully and with interest. On the reverse die d9 (No. 89) the die-cutter has substituted, for the usual column of the altar, a caryatid who, dancing, supports a disc above her head. This figure, in spite of its small size, is extraordinarily well done, both in body and dress; the same is true of the caryatid appearing in a similar position on the later Victoria coins f15 (No. 140), f16 (No. 141).

In pose and in the swing of her dress, the altar-figure of d9 shows a great similarity to the contemporary Nike-Victoria figures preserved for us in Dura and Palmyra (Plate XVI). 113 Such details and small changes in the type can hardly be due to official influence, but only to an inclination for change and the fancy of the die-cutter. But they do show the technical and spiritual quality of those whose duty it was to prepare the dies and give the coins their final form in the second period of Decius' coinage.

The question therefore arises in the mind of the beholder, whether these dies were actually the work of native, provincial artisans; the difference is all too obvious. And if not from the province, where did the die-cutters come from, and what training did they have? Here, as so often when we look into the origin of art in the East, we are forced back on conjecture, which, however, in this particular field, numismatics, thanks to the peculiar character of the subject, can closely approximate the truth.

Above, in the general discussion of the portraits, it was ascertained that also the obverse of this issue, the portrait of Decius, was excellently modeled and could compare with the best of the imperial coins. On these coins we find nothing which could be connected with the local arts, nothing of the awkward or simple, often primitive and crude, coinage of the previous decades. The technical skill with which our reverse figures are cut, the modeling and movement of the two figures at the altar, and of the altar-figure itself indicate a fundamental training in sculpture, practice in art, and Western, Graeco-Roman influence. "Indubitablement inspirées par l'art grec contemporain," says Chabot of the Nike figures from Palmyra which we mentioned, "on peut même affirmer qu'elles sont l'oeuvre d'artistes grecs." 114 What does Strack say about the coins of just a few decades before this? "Für die Münzen des zweiten Jahrhunderts aber gilt ohne Einschränkung, dass die künstlersich höchste Qualität immer bei der stadtrömischen Offizin liegt und dass alle Prägungen der Provinzen hinter den römischen,—oft sogar in weitem abstand—zurückstehen." This is true in Asia Minor and also in Antioch and Alexandria, to name only those cities which were both important centers of culture and mints of coins with wide circulation. Where the quality of provincial coins approaches that of the Roman, the Roman influence is probably active. 115 Actual cooperation of the Ro- man imperial mint has been proved in the case of Alexanderia 116 and Caesarea in Cappadocia; 117 in the latter mint, even the types of the colonial issues were adopted from the Roman. 118

What Strack says is in a general way even true of the third century, especially of the copper coinage. Applying this to our coins, the question about the artists is answered. The excellent portrait, the exemplary lettering and the reverse, in short the superb style, all indicate that our "Concordia" pieces were influenced directly or indirectly by the imperial Roman mint. If now we again examine the reverse type, that of which we were before vaguely conscious now becomes clear: the technique and die-cutting are Greek, the manner and arrangement of the composition, the content and expression of the Concordia coins is throughout Roman. To this we must add the change in the inscription, adding the colonial title which occurred just at this point, the minting of fractional currency on imperial standards, the accurate weights—in short a Roman spirit pervades these coins; they are Roman coins in Greek clothing. How did this happen on the Parthian border, in farthest Mesopotamia?

Issue e

Founder (priest) in long garment plowing right, left hand resting on staff, with the right directing the plow; in field above, eagle with spread wings seated on palm branch, in beak, filleted wreath; in exergue, half-figure of River-god swimming.

In this issue the emperor strikes with three obverses: C, D, E. In C we find two dies of the Concordia issue used again, as well as a few new ones. Obverse C, which was most frequent in the earlier issues, is here and in the following issue also plentifully struck; 19 examples of the 30 reverse dies are coupled with C. Besides the old obverse die D1 there are two new ones. E with the old die is used once more.

The coins of the empress have obverse I in two dies already used. Also the joint coins of the emperor and his son are struck with the die used in the earlier issue, on which Herennius was still called KAIΣAP. In this issue, types with the heir alone (obverse K) and joint coins of the emperor and his wife (obverse L) are added to the earlier reverses, so that we have joint coins of two pairs, and coins for three individuals alone; in all seven different obverse types.

The coins of Herennius, of which only three examples are known, are struck from two different dies. In K1 the portrait of the youthful co-regent shows a marked resemblance to his father, accentuated by the slightly aquiline nose, the round chin, and somewhat receding forehead. On K2 appears the same head but with a somewhat changed, more childish nose; this may be die K1 worn and re-engraved. Both times the heir is called ΣEB(αστός). Since Etruscus is already called ΣEBAΣTOΣ on these coins, they are presumably later than those on which he is still known as KAIΣAP. When, however, he appears on contemporary coins (the joint coins with his father) still as KAIΣAP 119 it is due to the fact that all of the joint coins were struck from one die, and that this die with KAIΣAP was taken over from an earlier issue and used again. This does not change the sequence of issues, which must remain d-e-f. Also we know of two obverses of the emperor (C8 and C10) which appear only in issues e and f, proving that they are later than d. Skipping an issue with two dies would be improbable.

There are 37 dies of reverse e, the largest number we have been able to find for any type in Rhesaena. Reverse e1 is coupled with obverse C (No. 94) and E (No. 120). Die e24 is used for Decius (No. 117) and for Etruscus (No. 179); e25 in three combinations, for Decius (No. 118), Etruscilla (No. 173) and on a joint coin, Decius-Herennius (No. 190). The die e33 serves for the coins of Herennius (No. 178) and for the joint coins Decius-Etruscilla (No. 181).

From such a study of the number of dies, unfortunately nothing can be concluded about the length of time one issue covered. We know that at one time with just a few dies coinages continued for years, and at another there were dozens of dies for an issue lasting only a few months. Therefore we must content ourselves by merely noting the fact of the large number of known examples, and remarkable abundance of coins.

The reverse type e represents the well-known scene of a formal founding according to Etrusco-Roman rite, the Priest with plow and yoke of oxen tracing the sulcus primigenius. As a symbol of a deductio coloniae it appears on imperial and especially on colonial coins. 120 Generally the flag of the colonists, the vexillum, which also played its part in the founding, is included in this scene. 121 The long staff of the priest is here substituted for it. Content and manner of representation is here, as in the previous issue, typically Roman, a further indication of official influence which was active at Rhesaena in the second part of Decius' reign. Also the River-god in the exergue, whose origin in this position was the statue of Eutychides, is gradually crowded out. On several pieces a filleted wreath is substituted. In the next issue the God has entirely disappeared and the exergue, as so often on imperial copper, remains empty. The provincial influences which lead to the choice of types, Tyche and temple, on Decius' early coins are finally played out. The only un-Roman element remaining is the Greek inscription, and that too only in modified form, for the name of the legion remains Latin. Whether there was any particular reason for the choice of this type for the Rhesaena coins we cannot say. 122

The conclusions which we drew from the style of the "Concordia" issue are equally valid for the "Founder" issue; indeed we can go somewhat further. The Roman influence apparent on the Rhesaena coinage, which continued over three abundant issues (we shall see that the last, the "Tyche-Fortuna" issue belongs to this group), cannot have been due entirely to such secondary forces as the artisans, die-cutters or mint officials. The introduction of new types is to be attributed to the same source, in all probability, as the new installation and fresh use in all the principal mints of workmen experienced in the making of coins. Thus, the nature of the types was Roman, Roman the form of the coin, and Roman the workmen. The question arises, what events led to such a strengthening of Roman life in Mesopotamia?

Issue f

Tyche-Fortuna in turreted crown, chiton and mantle, standing left; in her left hand, cornucopia; with her out-stretched right pouring a libation on a lighted columnar altar, in field left above, eagle with spread wings seated on palm-branch, filleted wreath in beak; exergue empty.

In this issue, the coins of the emperor are struck almost exclusively with obverse C. Dies (C5 and C6, C8 and C10) from issues d and e are reused. Of other obverse types for the emperor we know only one example of type D; all other obverses seem to have been used no longer; at best we could only have expected E in addition.

Die I1, used in issue d, is again found on coins of the empress; similarly on the joint coins of Decius- Etruscilla and Decius-Herennius the old dies L1 and M1 are reused. No coin of Herennius alone is known for this issue.

On this issue we find the figure of the Goddess of Fate, Tyche, the Fortuna of the Romans. In the first half of the third century, in the heyday of Rhesaena, her cult had already spread throughout the ancient world. Vespasian introduced her worship in the Roman army and put her image on Roman coins, 123 under Antoninus Pius and Septimius Severus her golden statue stood in the sleeping apartments of the Emperor, 124 and in the fourth century her cult was still practised by the Christians at Dorn. 125 With headdress, cornucopia, and patera or rudder, 126 she appears as one of the most usual coin types of Roman times. On imperial coins, often connected with the imperial family, 127 she is considered on Greek coins sometimes as goddess of destiny, sometimes more as local deity. 128 That the single city Tyche is not to be confused with the general Greek Tyche-Fortuna is evident from a coin of Antioch which shows both goddesses. 129 It is difficult to dis- tinguish the coin types representing Tyche-Fortuna from those of the Homonoia-Concordia type; other attributes being the same, the figure with the rudder is generally considered as Tyche 130 and the one holding a patera as Homonoia, 131 but this cannot be followed too rigidly. 132 On these grounds, the figure on our issue might be interpreted as Homonoia-Concordia in the Roman sense, which makes no fundamental difference, as no conclusions which we might draw from that would be changed in any way.

One issue has already been devoted to Concordia and it seems improbable that within a relatively short time two issues expressing the same idea would be struck. The general tendency to make the greatest possible use of coins as a means of official propaganda became steadily more important in imperial times, and we must take this into account wherever Roman influence was as strongly marked as here. So it seems to me that this last issue of Rhesaena should rightly be called the "Fortuna" issue.

Again the conditions at Dura may serve as material for comparison; a marble statuette of Tyche-Fortuna with cornucopiae unearthed there shows that she was also worshipped there. 133 Then there is a Dura wall-painting on which a figure with cornucopia is offering frankincense at a thymiaterion. The whole representation shows great similarity to our coin type, even in style, so that the idea of a common prototype or some closer connection, as in the case of Nike of issue d, comes to mind (Fig. 3). 134


Fig. 3—Tyche sacrificing. (Wall drawing from Dura.)

The eagle in the field of our coins 135 gives a more definite meaning to the whole picture; if on imperial coins we have "Fortuna Augusti," then here we may call her "Fortuna imperii Romani." The great tutelary Goddess, guiding the fate of the Empire, is thus brought before the eyes of the citizens so that these citizens, colonists and soldiers of Rome in the East could call upon her for protection, there where the enemies of the Empire, the Persians, had grown to a menacing strength and power. Also this issue seems to be the bearer of the message of that effort of Decius' which characterized his whole reign: Romanization. The completely empty exergue is another small indication of the advancing Romanization: the foreign River-god flees before the imperial gods.

End Notes
102 Études syriennes, pp. 265f.
103 BMC Arabia , Pl. XIII, 1, 2.
104 BMC Arabia , Pl. XVI, 1, 4, 6.
105 Macdonald, Hunterian Collection, III, p. 319, No. 19 gives; right, Rhesaena or Singara; left, Carrhae or Edessa. BMC, Arabia , pp. cxi f., gives: right, Rhesaena; left, Edessa.
106 Hunterian Collection, III, p. 303, No. 20.
107 BMC, Arabia , p. xciv; Bellinger, Yale Classical Studies, V, p. 153, where Wroth is given for Hill in error as the authority.
108 Bellinger, Yale Classical Studies, V, p. 154.
109 BMC, Arabia , pp. 117f.
110 Cumont, Fouilles de Doura, Pl. L.
111 For example Smyrna and Perinthus, Smyrna and Nicomedia, Smyrna and Pergamum, etc., see BMC, Ionia, pp. 302–308; also in Mesopotamia, BMC, Arabia , Edessa, pp. 101f., Nos. 69–71; Hunterian Collection, III, p. 309, No. 37, Pl. LXXIX, 4.
112 Dessau, Inscriptiones Latinae Selectae, No. 8922 (from Oescus).
113 Dura: Yale Classical Studies, V, Fig. 57; Palmyra: Chabot, Choix d'inscriptions de Palmyre, Paris, 1922. Pls. XVII, XVIII.
114 Op. cit., p. 101.
115 Strack, Untersuchungen zur römischen Reichsprägung, II, p. 194.
116 "Der Stil dieser Münzen (Hadrian) ist ein anderer; er entspricht weitgehend dem der stadtrömischen Prägung. Einwirkungen von dort stehen daher ausser Frage." Strack, op. cit., II, 26. Also in Alexandria under Severus Alexander we can prove the introduction of personnel from the mint at Rome; see Vogt, Die alexandrinischen Münzen, Stuttgart, 1924, I, pp. 184f,
117 "Kein Zweifel, dass die Bildstempel (under Hadrian) entweder aus der römischen Offizin stammen, oder dort ausgebildete scalptores nach Caesarea übernommen wurden." Strack, op. cit., I, p. 195, note 847.
118 BMC, Galatia, pp. xxxv f.
119 See a similar phenomenon at Antioch under Philip Jr., Bellinger, The Sixth, Seventh and Tenth Dura Hoards, pp. 15–16, p. 56, Nos. 182f., pp. 58f., Nos. 197f.
120 On imperial coins, e.g., Strack, op. cit., I, pp. 129f., No. 384. On colonial coins, in Corinth, etc.; in the East, for example in Bostra, BMC, Arabia , Pl. IV. 4.
121 Kornemann, "Coloniae," RE, IV, col. 572.
122 It is not certain that there was any expansion of the colony. Decius also created a colony at Thessalonica on the Balkan peninsula when it was threatened by barbarian invasions; BMC, Macedonia , pp. lxiii and 128; Wittig, op. cit., 1270.
123 Gundel, RE, VII, 2627; Domaszewski, Religion des römischen Heeres, p. 40.
124 Strack, op. cit., I, p. 77; Bellinger, The Eighth and Ninth Dura Hoards, pp. 2–8.
125 Prudentius, C. Symmach., I, 197ff.
126 Roscher, Lexicon s.v. 1334f.; Bernhart, Handbuch zur Münzkunde, p. 90.
127 On Fortuna Augusti see Strack, op. cit., I, p. 76.
128 To name only a few coins: Megara (Tyche of Praxiteles): BMC, Attica, p. 123, Nos. 51, 52, Pl. XXII. 5, also see Pausanias I, 43. 6, and Imhoof and Gardner, Numismatic Commentary on Pausanias, 7f., Pl. A 14; Sicyon: BMC, Peloponnesus, p. 56, No. 224(= Imhoof-Gardner, op. cit., 28, pl. H 3); Historia Numorum 2, 412; Argos: BMC, Peloponnesus, p. 144, No. 109, Pl. XXVII. 24(= Imhoof-Gardner, op. cit., 37, Pl. K 29); Smyrna: BMC, Ionia, Pls. XXVI. 14, XXVII. 4(= Imhoof-Blumer, Griechische Münzen, Pl. IX. 10), XXVIII. 2, 6.
129 BMC. Galatia, p. lxii. Pl. XXIV. 13.
130 For example, Smyrna, BMC, Ionia, p. 254, No. 159.
131 Pick, Die antiken Münzen von Dacien und Moesien, I, p. 245, No. 764, Pl. XVIII, 34. On Concordia Augusti see Strack, op. cit., I, pp. 56f.
132 Tyche with patera: see coins of Megara and Sicyon mentioned in note 128, and Smyrna, BMC, Ionia, Pl. XXVII. 4.
133 Cumont, Fouilles de Doura, p. 216.
134 See Dura Rep. V, 158; VI, 485 and fig. 32.

The Middle Bronzes

The rest of the coins of Rhesaena are minted only in the name of the emperor. They represent two denominations, each with only one reverse.

The middle bronzes had presumably the value of a semis. The emperor's bust appears on them in two forms, with laurel wreath and with radiate crown. They are smaller replicas of the emperor's bust on types B and C of the large coins. Whether there is any connection between the discontinued use of obverse B on the large coins and its adoption for the smaller ones is uncertain. The obverse inscription reads: AYT(οκράτωρ) K(αῖσαρ) Γ(άιος) M(έσσιος) KY(ντος) TPA(ιανὸς) ΔEKIOΣ ΣEB(αστός).

The reverse throughout has the form used on the second group of large coins: ΣEΠ(τιμία) KOΛ(ωνία) PHΣAINHΣIΩN L(egio) III P(arthica) (see Table IV).

The reverse shows the confronted, draped busts of two Tychae with veil and turreted crown. Above in the field is a seated eagle facing front, with half-closed wings; below a lighted columnar altar. Only a single piece, No. 145, which differs also in the reverse inscription, has neither altar nor eagle. Its faulty inscription ΣEΠ KOΛ PHΣAINHΣIΩ PimageL (Legio Severiana Parthica) is worthy of note because it retains the form of the coins of Severus Alexander.

The bust of Tyche, instead of the complete figure, occurs frequently on coins of the East. The meaning of these coins is exactly the same as that expressed by the Concordia issue of the large ones. Here, as there, the confronted images of two City-goddesses (on the dupondius the entire figures, on the semis the busts), and in both denominations the eagle and the altar between. Like the large coins, they combine various marks of the first three issues, such as obverse legend, drawing and style of the portrait, with characteristics of the last three issues, that is, the subject and reverse legend.

Therefore, we can hardly go wrong if we put these middle bronzes at the beginning of the second period and contemporary with the Concordia issue of the dupondii. Possibly some of them were also struck in the succeeding issue, but we cannot assume a longer period for the output of these little known coins (see Table V).

End Notes
135 Similar coins of Prusa, BMC, Pontus, Pl. XXXV. 7, and in Raphanea, BMC, Galatia, p. lxx, Pl. XXXI. 12, 13.

The Small Bronzes

The smallest denomination minted by Decius at Rhesaena corresponds roughly to the Roman triens (see p. 13). It shows a much reduced bust of the emperor in type B with the inscription: AYT-(οκράτωρ) K(αῖσαρ) Γ(άιος) M(έσσιος) K(υίντος) TP(αιανός) ΔEKIOΣ ΣEB(αστός).

The reverse field shows us a familiar type: the vexillum. The flag is ornamented with fringe on its lower edge, the ends of the crosspiece are both decorated with a fluttering ribbon. Above it, seated facing, is an eagle with spread wings. The vexillum bears the device image. The reverse also has the usual inscription, which as before we find in both the longer and shorter forms. Also in the examples with the short form, ΣEΠ(τιμία) PHΣAINHΣIΩN (however, without the name of the legion), the obverse portrait is flat and carelessly executed (No. 151). On the contrary, the obverse of the pieces with the later, longer formula ΣEΠ(τιμία) KOΛ(ωνία) PHΣAINHΣIΩN L III P (Nos. 152–156) presents us a well modelled and carefully cut imperial portrait, whose similarity to many of the dies of the large coins of type B is marked. Of the first group only two examples are known to me, of the second sixteen.

Therefore, in spite of the same reverse type, a chronological difference in the small bronzes is possible. The pieces with the shorter reverse legend and the smaller portrait of the emperor we would put in the time of the first group of large coins, that is, with issues a, b and c, which agree with these small coins as to portrait, inscription and style. It is not possible to determine the exact issue of the first group in which these might fall. On the other hand, all of the small coins with longer reverse inscription and good portrait should be associated with the later group of large coins and dated from the same time. We shall not err if we put them, or at least their first appearance, in the Concordia issue, at which time, as we saw above, the first joint coins of the emperor and his oldest son were struck, and very probably the middle bronzes minted.

We know no small coins of either the empress or the heir. Mionnet describes, it is true, a small coin of Etruscilla which, however, we have not been able to trace. The smallest denomination at Rhesaena again brings us the vexillum, a type which was used on the first Vexillum-coins some four decades earlier. But these last pieces struck under Decius did not enjoy so long a circulation as the earlier ones; hardly a year later the Persians fought and ruled in Mesopotamia, where formerly the Romans reigned.

Dating and Summary

The sequence of types has been determined from the evidence of the coins themselves. The approximate dating of the single issues, or at least of the principal groups a–c and d–f, requires the consideration of historical events and other coins as well.

Decius was declared emperor by the Pannonian troops in the middle of June 249 and could regard himself as sole ruler from the death of Philip in September of that year. 136 The adoption of the name Traianus, which is attested from various places, dates from the very beginning of the reign. The legend of the earlier group of Rhesaena coins, issues a–c, is the Greek equivalent for Imp. Caes. C. Messius Quintus Traianus Decius Aug., the form of the name which occurs elsewhere most frequently and throughout the reign. However, the Antoniniani show another form of obverse inscription which is even earlier, and, since it cannot be supposed that a small border town in the remote East would begin immediately to strike coins for a new Emperor, we cannot put the first three issues of Rhesaena too soon after the death of Philip. On the other hand, one cannot date them too late, for the fourth issue, the Concordia coins, is connected with the title of Caesar for Etruscus. In Mesopotamia one might not hear of the new title as soon as in Egypt, where it was already in use in the middle of February 250, 137 but the delay would not be great. This evidence leads us to date the earlier group of Rhesaena in the end of 249 and the first half, perhaps the first three or four months of 250. From the same time comes the earlier triens (quadrans?).

After a half-year of peaceful reign for Decius came the invasion of the Goths and Carpi into Moesia. Herennius was raised to the rank of Caesar and sent with part of the troops to oppose the barbarians. Our fourth issue, d, contains joint coins with the portrait of Herennius and the title KAIΣAP which he received perhaps in March, more probably be- tween April and June. 138 We may assume, therefore, that the first issue of the second group appeared in the second half of 250. 139

The types of e and f are certainly Roman but have too general a significance to give any indication their date. The fact that in issue e there are coins for Herennius alone with the title ΣEB(αστός) is of little value for absolute dating. We know, it is true, that Herennius very probably became Augustus and co-regent in May 251, 140 but the title ΣEBAΣTOΣ was often used for Caesar in the third century when the person in question was not in fact Augustus, and therefore can be used as evidence for dating only with circumspection. 141 Moreover, the heir's name is here incorrectly given, although in the earlier issue d the correct form is used. For these reasons we have not sufficient evidence for supposing that issues e and f were struck in the relatively short period between May and the death of Decius in the first days of June 251. 142 There is more reason for thinking that they were minted immediately after d, that is from the last months of 250 and during the first half of 251.

The technical improvement and the various innovations found in the second group of our coins bear witness to an increase of Roman influence. Practically every innovation in provincial coinage from the time of Marcus Aurelius on was due to the influence of the imperial coinage. "Wie die Provinzial-Münzen in Stil, Technik und Währungssystem die römische Beeinflussung immer deutlicher erkennen lassen, so vollzieht sich auch in der Symbolik der Typen immer mehr ein Angleich an die für das ganze Reich von Rom aus verbreiteten Bilder," remarks a student of the Alexandrian coinage. 143 This may well have been connected, on the one hand, with the reform of the cities' administration, the so-called censura under Decius, 144 and, on the other, with the influx of Roman soldiers in the general strengthening of the garrisons against the Persians. For them an increase of small change would be necessary; to them the improved portrait of the emperor and the regularizing of his title would have meant more than to the native inhabitants; and in their minds the stress laid on the town's official title of Colonia would have held out hopes for adequate provision for their old age.

No one in Rhesaena could have guessed that the latest issues would last for so short a time; that Rhesaena itself would so soon suffer the fate of the many flourishing border cities of the Euphrates and Tigris district. Originally wealthy commercial centers with a large civil population, they became more and more arsenals and frontier forts from which the riches, possessions and full money-boxes of peace times disappeared, giving way to the thin purses of soldiers from every corner of the Empire, 145 until at last the Persians came.

With the untimely death of Decius at the beginning of June 251 the history of Rhesaena as an ancient mint comes to an end. After the reforms of Diocletian in the fourth century the legiones Parthicae, now four in number, still occupied the much shrunken Roman part of Mesopotamia, the 1st and 2nd Parthica in "Mesopotamia," the 3rd and 4th in "Osrhoena." 146 The peace of the year 363–364 between the Romans and Persians moved the Eastern border of the Empire to the river today called Djaghdjagh, the tributary of the Chabur coming from Nisibis, so that once again Rhesaena became an important border town; but its coins can tell us nothing more. In 373, because of its importance, it was re-fortified and given the new name Theodosioupolis, which, however, did not last.

The army of the Calif Omar (634–644) conquered Mesopotamia in its triumphal passage, and a large Arab settlement, preserving the old name in the Arabic form Ras-el-Ain, developed to the north of the Roman town. Under the Abbasids it was a rich and important caravan city which was used by the Califs as a mint city and perhaps as a summer residence. The memory of its greatness is today preserved in the appellation "Abbasije" for the ruins of the old Islamic city. 147 Succeeding Saracenic dynasties further benefitted the city on the Chabur until the Mongol invasion of Mesopotamia, beginning in 1259, laid waste the fruitful plain and destroyed almost the entire population. From that time on these lands have remained desert, occupied only by nomad Arabs and Kurdish shepherds, the mounds of ruins alone bearing witness to the former dense population and the days of their culture.

End Notes
136 Wittig, op. cit., cols. 1250–1252.
137 Wittig, op. cit., col. 1248 (from BGU III, 937, dated November 11, 250).
138 March ?: Schulz, Vom Prinzipat zum Dominat, Paderborn, 1919, p. 203; April-Mid. June: Wittig, op. cit., col. 1251.
139 Herennius was designated as Caesar in 250–1 = Dac. an. V = Moes. an XII = 4 of Decius; Wittig, op. cit., col. 1262 If our issue d was still being struck in July or August, which is not improbable, it would be contemporary with the Alexandrian coins of Decius on which we find the same name order (Decius Traianus). Wittig, op. cit., col. 1248.
140 Wittig, op. cit., col. 1263.
141 Examples for Herennius and Hostilian in Wittig, op. cit., col. 1264. On the other hand Caesar occurs sometimes when the person in question has long been Augustus; see Bellinger, The Sixth, Seventh, and Tenth Dura Hoards, pp. 15–16, p. 56, Nos. 182f., pp. 58f., Nos. 197f. (Antioch); also here the coins of issue e with ΣEB and KAIΣAP together.
142 Wittig, op. cit., col. 1253. That this time was too short even for mints lying closer to Rome to issue coins is seen from the fact that for Herennius there are no coins of Alexandria, Dacia, or Moesia Inferior with the title Imp. Caes. Aug.
143 Vogt, Die Alexandrinischen Münzen, I, p. 232; see also pp. 184f.
144 Wittig, op. cit., col. 1278.
145 C. B. Welles, Dura Rep. IV, p. 143.
146 Nischer in Kromayer-Veith, Heerwesen und Kriegführung der Griechen und Römer, p. 484.

Trajan Decius 249–251


Issue a: AYT KAI ΓAI MEΣ KY TPA ΔEKIOΣ ΣEB (See pp. 46f.).

Rev. ΣEΠ PHΣAINHΣIΩN L III P Tyche seated 1. (See pp. 57-59).

45. Obverse B1 Reverse a1 Plate VII
Countermarked veiled head r. (Tyche?) = Etruscilla, No. 157
a) Vienna, ↑, 26 mm., 16.3 gr.; b) Copenhagen, 26 mm.
46. Obverse B2 Reverse a2 Plate VII
Paris, 27 mm.
47. Obverse C1 Reverse a3
Paris, ↑, 25 mm.
48. Obverse C1 Reverse a4
Collection Hollschek, Vienna, 26 mm., 10.98 gr.
49. Obverse C1 Reverse a5
Hunterian Coll., Vol. III, p. 318, No. 13, Pl. LXXIX, 19.
50. Obverse C2 Reverse a6 Plate VII
River-god r.,
BMC, p. 129, No. 27, 27 mm., 11.42 gr.
51. Obverse C2 Reverse a7
River-god r.
Naples, 27 mm., 15.0 gr.
52. Obverse E1 Reverse a8 Plate VII
River-god r., in field, star, l. and r.
Paris, 25 mm.
Issue b: Same inscription.
Rev. Same inscription. Temple with roof (See pp. 59f.).
53. Obverse A1 Reverse b1 Plate VII
Temple with five columns. River-god 1. = Etruscilla, No. 161.
BMC, p. 128, No. 21, Pl. XVIII, 9, ↘, 27 mm., 13.0 gr.
54. Obverse A1 Reverse b2
Vienna, ↖, 27 mm., 11.2 gr.
55. Obverse A2 Reverse b3
Temple with seven columns. = Decius, No. 56, Etruscilla, No. 162.
Berlin, ↑, 28 mm., pierced.
56. Obverse B1 Reverse b3
= Decius, No. 55, Etruscilla, No. 162.
57. Obverse B2 Reverse b4
Temple with four columns.
a) Vienna, ↓, 28 mm., 13.4 gr.; b) Berlin, ←, 28 mm.
58. Obverse B2 Reverse b5 Plate VII
Temple with five columns ..ΣANHIΣIΩN
a) Collection Schottenstift, Vienna, 26 mm., 16.13 gr.; b) Coll. Cast., ↘, 26 mm., 9.72 gr
59. Obverse C2 Reverse b6
Vienna, ↘, 28 mm., 12.4 gr.
60. Obverse C2 Reverse b7
River-god r.
Collection Alois Rzach, Prague, 26 mm.
61. Obverse C2 Reverse b8
= Decius, No. 63
Vienna, ↘ 27 mm., 11.6 gr.
62. Obverse C2 Reverse b9 Plate VII
Naples, 26 mm., 13.45 gr.
63. Obverse F1 Reverse b8
= Decius, No. 61
Paris, 26 mm.
64. Obverse F1 Reverse b10 Plate VII
Paris, 27 mm.

Issue c: Same inscription.

Rev. Same inscription. Temple without roof (See pp. 61f.).

65. Obverse B2 Reverse c1
Temple with five columns. River-god l.
Berlin, →, 27 mm.
66. Obverse C1 Reverse c2 Plate VIII
Temple with six columns. = Etruscilla, No. 165
Paris, 26 mm.
67. Obverse C2 Reverse c3
Temple with five columns. River-god r.
BMC, p. 128, No. 17, ↖, 27 mm., 11.27 gr.
68. Obverse C2 Reverse c4 Plate VIII
a) Berlin (under Herennius), ↘, 28 mm.; b) Berlin, ↖, 26 mm.
69. Obverse C2 Reverse c5
River-god l.
BMC, p. 128, No. 16, 27 mm., 14.0 gr.
70. Obverse C2 Reverse c6
Temple with six columns.
a) Coll. Hollschek, Vienna, 27 mm., 11.75 gr.; b) Paris, 27 mm.; c) Leningrad, 26 mm., 15.57 gr.
71. Obverse C2 Reverse c7
Temple with five columns.
Hunterian Coll., Vol. III, p. 318, No. 11, 27 mm.
72. Obverse C2 Reverse c8
River-god r.
Hunterian Coll., Vol. III, p. 318, No. 12, 27 mm.
73. Obverse E1 Reverse c9
BMC, p. 128, No. 19, Pl. XVIII, 18, ↘, 27 mm., 11.37 gr.
74. Obverse E1 Reverse c10 Plate VIII
a) Copenhagen, 26 mm.; b) Copenhagen, 26 mm. with countermark on obverse: veiled head of Tyche with mural crown.
75. Obverse E1 Reverse c3
Vienna, ↖, 26 mm., 10.6 gr.
76. Obverse E1 Reverse c11
a) Berlin, ↘, 26 mm.; b) Collection Schottenschrift, 27 mm., 11.79 gr.
77. Obverse E1 Reverse c12 Plate VIII
Temple with six columns.
a) Hunterian Coll., Vol. III, p. 318, No. 9, 27 mm.; b) ibid., No. 10, Pl. LXXIX, 18, 25 mm.
78. Obverse E1 Reverse c13
Temple with five columns
BMC, p. 128, No. 20, ↘, 28 mm., 10.87 gr.
79. Obverse F1 Reverse e14 Plate VIII
BMC, p. 128, No. 18, ↖, 27 mm. 12.23 gr.

Issue d: AYT K Γ ME KY ΔEKIOΣ TPAIANOΣ ΣEB (See pp. 46f.).

Rev. ΣEΠ KOΛ PHΣAINHΣIΩN LIIIP Concordia (See pp. 62-68).

80. Obverse B3 Reverse d1
Eagle and River-god r. = Decius, No. 84
Vienna, ↓, 26 mm., 11.4 gr., pierced.
81. Obverse C3 Reverse d2 Plate VIII
Eagle l., River-god r.
a) BMC, p. 131, No. 32, Pl. XVIII, 18, ↓, 27 mm., 14.53 gr.; b) Munich, 27 mm.; c) Berlin, ↖, 26 mm.
82. Obverse C3 Reverse d3
Copenhagen, 27 mm.
83. Obverse C3 Reverse d4
= Decius, No. 93
Berlin 25 mm.
84. Obverse C4 Reverse d1 Plate VIII
= Decius, No. 80
Paris, 25 mm.
85. Obverse C5 Reverse d5
Naples, 26 mm., 11.8 gr.
86. Obverse C5 Reverse d6
Leningrad, ↓, 26 mm., 12.69 gr.
87. Obverse C6 Reverse d7 Plate IX
a) Berlin, ↖, 26 mm.; b) Paris, 26 mm.
87I. Obverse C6 var. Reverse d9 var. Plate IX
Yale (from Dura), ↖, 25 mm., 12.52 gr.
88. Obverse D1 Reverse d8
Eagle and River-god r.
Berlin, ↖, 25 mm.
89. Obverse D1 Reverse d9 Plate IX
Altar as Caryatid l.
a) BMC, p. 130, No. 29, Pl. XVIII, 11, ↖, 27 mm., 10.57 gr.; b) Berlin, ↘, 26 mm.; c) BMC, p. 130, No. 28, ↘, 27 mm., 15.38 gr.; d) Naples, 25 mm., 12.92 gr.
90. Obverse E1 Reverse d10 Plate IX
Eagle l., altar as column.
BMC, p. 130, No. 30, Pl. XVIII, 12, ↓, 25 mm., 11.51 gr.
91. Obverse E1 Reverse d11
Berlin, ↖, 25 mm.
92. Obverse E1 Reverse d12
Leningrad, ↑, 25 mm., 14.56 gr.
93. Obverse E1 Reverse d4
= Decius, No. 83
BMC, p. 130, No. 31, ↑, 27 mm., 11.45 gr.

Issue e: Same inscription. (See pp. 68-72)

Rev. Same inscription. Foundation of a colony.

94. Obverse C3 Reverse e1
Eagle l.; in ex. wreath between two palms. = Decius, No. 120
Naples, 27 mm., 13.48 gr.
95. Obverse C5 Reverse e2 Plate IX
Eagle sitting r., looking l.; in ex. River-god r.
Naples, 26 mm., 14.95 gr.
96. Obverse C5 Reverse e3
Berlin, ↓, 27 mm.
97. Obverse C5 Reverse e4
Leningrad, ↖, 25 mm., 12.94 gr.
98. Obverse C5 Reverse e5
Leningrad, 26 mm., 12.96 gr.
99. Obverse C5 Reverse e6
100. Obverse C6 Reverse e7
BMC, p. 127, No. 13, ↖, 27 mm., 11.98 gr.
101. Obverse C6 Reverse e8
a) Hunterian Coll., Vol. III, p. 317, No. 6, Pl. LXXIX, 17, 25 mm.; b) Dresden, ↘, 26 mm.
102. Obverse C6 Reverse e9
a) Munich, 26 mm.; b) Vienna, ↖, 26 mm. 11.7 gr.
103. Obverse C7 Reverse e10 Plate IX
Hunterian Coll., Vol. III, p. 317, No. 5, 25 mm.
104. Obverse C7 Reverse e11
Berlin, ↑, 26 mm.
105. Obverse C7 Reverse e12
106. Obverse C8 Reverse e13
BMC, p. 127, No. 10, ↘, 27 mm., 12.45 gr.
107. Obverse C9 Reverse e14
Munich, ↖, 25 mm.
108. Obverse C10 Reverse e15
a) Berlin, ↑, 25 mm.; b) Munich, ↖, 25 mm.
109. Obverse C10 Reverse e16
Berlin, ↑, 26 mm.
110. Obverse C10 Reverse e17
Paris, 25 mm.
111. Obverse C10 Reverse e18 Plate IX
Paris, 25 mm.
112. Obverse C10 Reverse e19
Hollschek Coll., Vienna, 25 mm.
113. Obverse D1 Reverse e20 Plate IX
BMC, p. 127, No. 11, ↖, 27 mm., 12.29 gr.
114. Obverse D1 Reverse e21
Athens, 25 mm.
115. Obverse D2 Reverse e22
BMC, p. 127, No. 14, Pl. XVIII, 7, ↑, 26 mm., 11.35 gr.
116. Obverse D3 Reverse e23 Plate IX
Gotha, 26 mm.
117. Obverse D3 Reverse e24
= Herennius, Nos. 179 f.
Paris, 26 mm.
118. Obverse D3 Reverse e25
= Etruscilla, No. 173; Decius and Herennius, No. 190
a) Berlin, ↓, 26 mm.; b) Vienna, ↑, 27 mm., 12.8 gr.
119. Obverse D3 Reverse e26
a) BMC, p. 127, No. 12, ↑, 27 mm., 12.19 gr.; b) Vienna, ↑, 26 mm., 9.9 gr.
120. Obverse E1 Reverse e1 Plate X
= Decius, No. 94
a) Berlin, ↓, 26 mm.; b) Vienna, ↑, 27 mm., 13.5 gr.; c) Hollschek Coll., Vienna, 26 mm., 11.92 gr.
121. Obverse E1 Reverse e27
Eagle sitting l.; in ex. wreath between two palm branches.
a) Hunterian Coll., Vol. III, p. 317, No. 8, 25 mm.; b) BMC, p. 127, No. 15, ↑, 26 mm., 12.06 gr. with countermark "Head of Emperor (?) r."
122. Obverse E1 Reverse e28
Eagle sitting r., looking l. PΣAINHΣIΩN
Hunterian Coll., Vol. III, p. 317, No. 7, 25 mm.
123. Obverse E1 Reverse e29 Plate X
In ex. River-god r.
a) Leningrad, 25 mm., 16.06 gr.
124. Obverse E1 Reverse e30
Paris, 25 mm.

Issue f: Same inscription.

Rev. Same inscription. Fortuna standing l. (See pp. 72-76).

125. Obverse C5 Reverse f1 Plate X
Palm branch l.
Paris, 27 mm.
126. Obverse C5 Reverse f2
Hollschek Collection, Vienna, 26 mm., 10.37 gr.
127. Obverse C5 Reverse f3
Palm branches l. and r.
Hunterian Coll., Vol. III, p. 317, No. 3, 28 mm.
128. Obverse C5 Reverse f4
Palm branch l.
a) Copenhagen, 26 mm.; b) Hunterian Coll., Vol. III, p. 317, No. 4, 25 mm.; c) Munich, 26 mm.
129. Obverse C5 Reverse f5
Munich, 26 mm.
130. Obverse C6 Reverse f6
BMC, p. 129, No. 26, ↖, 26 mm., 10.54 gr.
131. Obverse C6 Reverse f7
Palm branches l. and r.
BMC, p. 129, No. 23, ↖, 27 mm., 12.23 gr.
132. Obverse C6 Reverse f8 Plate X
a) BMC, p. 129, No. 24, Pl. XVIII, 10, ↘, 26 mm., 10.34 gr.; b) Berlin, ↖, 26 mm.
133. Obverse C7 Reverse f9 Plate X
BMC, p. 129, No. 25, ↖, 26 mm., 11.29 gr.
134. Obverse C10 Reverse f10
Naples, 25 mm., 10.60 gr.
135. Obverse C11 Reverse f11
Palm branch l.
Paris, 25 mm.
136. Obverse C12 Reverse f11
Berlin, ↖, 26 mm.
137. Obverse C12 Reverse f12
Palm branches l. and r.
BMC, p. 129, No. 22, ↖, 27 mm., 15.18 gr.
138. Obverse C12 Reverse f13
a) Gotha, 26 mm.; b) Leningrad, ↖, 25 mm., 14.02 gr.
139. Obverse C12 Reverse f14
Leningrad, →, 26 mm., 13.67 gr.
140. Obverse C12 Reverse f15 Plate X
Instead of altar, Caryatid Victory, a wreath in her r. hand.
Vienna, ↖, 26 mm., 11.1 gr.
141. Obverse C12 Reverse f16 Plate X
Instead of altar, female Caryatid.
Berlin, ↖, 26 mm.
142. Obverse C13 Reverse f17
Palm branch l.
Berlin, ↘, 26 mm.
143. Obverse C14 Reverse f18
Naples, 26 mm., 11.53 gr.
144. Obverse D4 Reverse f19
Berlin, ↘, 25 mm.
End Notes
147 Oppenheim, Der Tell Halaf, pp. 31, 69f.


Concordia issue: AYT K Γ M KY TPA ΔEKIOΣ ΣEB (See p. 76).

Rev. ΣEΠ KOΛ PHΣAINHΣIΩN LIIIP Veiled busts of two Tychae, confronted, wearing mural crowns.
145. Obverse B1 Reverse d1 Plate XI
Vienna, ↖, 23 mm., 6.1 gr.
146. Obverse B1 Reverse d2 Plate XI
In field above, eagle with spread wings, looking r., wreath in beak; below. small altar.
a) Berlin, ↑, 22 mm.; b) Paris, 22 mm.; c) Hunterian Coll., Vol. III, p. 318, No. 14, 27 mm.
147. Obverse B1 Reverse d3 Plate XI
Berlin, ↑, 21 mm.
148. Obverse C1 Reverse d3
a) BMC, p. 131, No. 33, Pl. XVIII, 13, ↖, 20 mm., 6.30 gr.; b) BMC, p. 131, No. 34, ↖, 21 mm., 5.99 gr.
149. Obverse C1 Reverse d4 Plate XI
With central point.
a) Vienna, ↘, 21 mm., 6.7 gr.; b) Copenhagen, 20 mm.; c) Berlin, ↖, 20 mm.
150. Obverse C1 Reverse d5
Paris, 21 mm.

Triens or Quadrans

Vexillum issue: AYTKΓMKTPΔEKIOΣ ΣEB (See p. 78).

Rev. ΣEΠ KOΛ PHΣAINHΣIΩN Vexillum with inscription LEG IIIP
151. Obverse B1 Reverse v1 Plate XI
Above vexillum seated eagle, wings spread, looking l., wreath in beak.
a) Naples, 16 mm., 4.30 gr.; b) Gotha
152. Obverse B2 Reverse v2 Plate XI
a) BMC, p. 131, No. 35, Pl. XVIII, 14, ↑, 17 mm., 3.41 gr.; b) Gotha, 16 mm.; c) Paris, 17 mm.
153. Obverse B2 Reverse v3 Plate XI
154. Obverse B2 Reverse v4 Plate XI
BMC, p. 131, No. 36, ↓, 18 mm., 2.06 gr.
155. Obverse B2 Reverse v5 Plate XI
Eagle looking r.
a) Vienna, ↘, 16 mm., 3.5 gr.; b) Copenhagen, 16 mm.; c) Naples, 16 mm., 3.70 gr.; d) Gotha, 16 mm.; e) Munich, 18 mm.
156. Obverse B2 Reverse v6 Plate XI
a) Berlin, ↘, 15 mm.; b) Hunterian Coll., Vol. III, p. 318, Nos. 15 f., 17 mm.; c) Munich, 17 mm.

Herennia Etruscilla Dupondii



Rev. As on Decius' issue a. (See pp. 57-59).

157. Obverse G1 Reverse a1
= Decius, No. 45
a) Leningrad, ←, 26 mm., 11.04 gr.; b) Gotha, 26 mm.
158. Obverse H1 Reverse a9 Plate XII
River-god swimming l.
Berlin, ↖, 28 mm.
159. Obverse H1 Reverse a10
Without L III P
a) Munich, 27 mm.; b) Berlin, ↑, 26 mm.; c) Berlin, ↑, 25 mm.
160. Obverse H1 Reverse a11 Plate XII
a) Hunterian Coll., Vol. III, p. 319, No. 23, 26 mm.; b) Paris, 28 mm.

Issue b: G and H.

Rev. As on Decius' issue b (See pp. 59f.).

161. Obverse G1 Reverse b1
= Decius, No. 53
Berlin, ↖, 26 mm.
162. Obverse G1 Reverse b3 Plate XII
= Decius, Nos. 55f.
a) Naples, 27 mm., 13.62 gr.; b) BMC, p. 133, No. 41, ↑, 27 mm., 13.40 gr.; c) Vienna, ↑, 26 mm., 13.6 gr.
163. Obverse H1 Reverse b11 Plate XII
Temple with eight columns; River-god l.
a) Berlin, ↘, 25 mm.; b) Paris, 26 mm.; c) Munich, 24 mm.


Rev. as on Decius' issue c (See pp. 61f.).

164. Obverse G1 Reverse c15 Plate XII
Temple with six columns, River-god l.
Hunterian Coll., Vol. III, p. 319, No. 22, 25 mm.
165. Obverse H1 Reverse c2
= Decius, No. 66
BMC, p. 133, No. 40, Pl. XVIII, 17, ↑, 26 mm., 13.69 gr.
166. Obverse I1 Reverse c16 Plate XII
Temple with five columns; River-god l.
a) Paris, 26 mm.; b) Gotha, 26 mm.
167. Obverse I1 Reverse c17
Countermark male (?) head r. Temple with five columns; River-god r.
168. Obverse I2 Reverse c18 Plate XII
Temple with five columns; eagle with wreath in beak; River-god r.
Hunterian Coll., Vol. III, p. 319, No. 21, 25 mm.

Issue d: I.

Rev. as on Decius' issue d (See pp. 62-68).

169. Obverse I3 Reverse d13 Plate XIII
= Decius and Herennius, No. 185
a) Berlin, ↓, 26 mm.; b) Hunterian Coll., Vol. III, p. 319, No. 20, Pl. LXXIX, 20, 25 mm.
170. Obverse I3 Reverse d14
a) Paris, 28 mm.; b) Munich, 26 mm.
171. Obverse I4 Reverse d15 Plate XIII
= Decius and Herennius, No. 186
Hunterian Coll., Vol. III, p. 319, No. 19, 25 mm.

Issue e: I.

Rev. as on Decius' issue e (See pp. 68-72).

172. Obverse I2 Reverse e31
Hollschek Coll., Vienna, 25 mm., 12.12 gr.
173. Obverse I3 Reverse e25
= Decius, No. 118
Paris, 25 mm.
174. Obverse I3 Reverse e32
Eagle, sitting r., looking l.
Berlin, ↑, 26 mm.

Issue f: I.

Rev. as on Decius' issue f (See pp. 72-76).

175. Obverse I3 Reverse f20
Palm branches l. and r.
Vienna, ↘, 28 mm.
176. Obverse I3 Reverse f21
= Decius and Herennia, No. 184
Paris, 27 mm.
177. Obverse I3 Reverse f22
Hunterian Coll., Vol. III, p. 319, No. 18, 25 mm.

Herennius Etruscus Dupondii


Rev. as on Decius' issue e (See pp. 68-72).

178. Obverse K1 Reverse e33
Eagle sitting r., looking l.; in ex. wreath (?).
= Decius and Herennia, No. 181.
Berlin, ↘, 26 mm., 11.06 gr.
179. Obverse K1 Reverse e24 Plate XIII
= Decius, No. 117, Herennius, No. 180
Berlin, ↑, 26 mm.
180. Obverse K2 Reverse e24 Plate XIII
= Decius, No. 117, Herennius, No. 179
Paris, 26 mm.

Decius and Herennia Dupondii


Rev. as on Decius' issue e (See p. 49).

181. Obverse L1 Reverse e33 Plate XIII
= Herennius, No. 178
Paris, ↖, 27 mm.
182. Obverse L1 Reverse e34
In ex. River-god r.
BMC, p. 132, No. 37, ↖, 27 mm., 13.39 gr.
183. Obverse L1 Reverse e35
a) Hunterian Coll., Vol. III, p. 318, No. 17, 26 mm.; b) Copenhagen, 27 mm.; c) Berlin, ↘, 27 mm.

Issue f: L.

Rev. as on Decius' issue f (See pp. 72-76).

184. Obverse L1 Reverse f21
= Herennia, No. 176
Leningrad, ↓, 26 mm., 12.29 gr.

Decius and Herennius Dupondii


Rev. as on Decius' issue d (See pp. 62-68).

185. Obverse M1 Reverse d13 Plate XIII
= Herennia, No. 169
a) Paris, 25 mm.; b) Vienna, ↖, 25 mm., 11.7 gr.; c) Munich, 26 mm.
186. Obverse M1 Reverse d15 Plate XIII
Countermark, bust of Tyche r., in circle.
= Herennia, No. 171
Berlin, ↘, 27 mm., 10.36 gr.
187. Obverse M1 Reverse d16
Berlin, ↘, 28 mm., 12.73 gr.
188. Obverse M1 Reverse d17
Berlin, ↘, 27 mm.

Issue e: Same inscription.

Rev. as on Decius' issue e (See pp. 68-72).

189. Obverse M1 Reverse e36
BMC, p. 132, No. 38, Pl. XVIII. 15, ↖, 26 mm., 7.63 gr.
190. Obverse M1 Reverse e25
= Decius, No. 118
a) Naples, 26 mm., 11.30 gr.; b) Berlin, ↑, 26 mm.
191. Obverse M1 Reverse e37
Athens, 26 mm.

Issue f: Same inscription.

Rev. as on Decius' issue f (See pp. 72-76).

192. Obverse M1 Reverse f23
BMC, p. 132, No. 39, Pl. XVIII. 16, ↖, 26 mm., 11.09 gr.

Table I

The Average Weights of the Coins or Rhesaena

During the reign of CaracallaSeverus Alexander.

In comparison with the imperial coinage. Denominations (dia. in mm) after A. R. Bellinger.

Diameter about: Denomination: 30 mm Sestertius? 25 mm Dupondius or As 20 mm Semis? 15 mm Triens or Quadrans
No of Catalogue
Coins with Vexillum:  1 (8.34)
 2 4.02
 3 4.65
 4 2.39 total
 5 2.11 32.81
 6 4.22
 7 3.70 ave.
 8 4.77 3.65
 9 3.88
12 3.07
13 5.88 total
Municipal Coins: 19 6.20
20 6.30
21 ave.
22 6.16 6.13
Elagabalus: total
Coins with Vexillum: 14 5.09
16 6.38 ave.
Municipal Coins: 23 14.29 total
24 10.30 24.59
Severus Alexander: total
Coins with Vexillum: 17 3.01
17/1 3.35
18 3.65 ave.
Municipal Coins: 25
26 15.19
29 7.91
30 9.21
31 9.18 total
32 69.47
34 ave.
35 9.92
37 10.38
39 8.40
41 9.20
94.06 36.01 42.82
Average: 10.45 6.00 3.57

Table II

The Average Weights and Denominations of Imperial, Syrian, and Mesopotamian Coins from Nero to Decius.

Imperial Coinage under Nero: 5.45 g.`"Semis"
Syrian Coinage under Traianus: 11.53 g.`"As" or 1½ "As" 5.06 g.`"Semis"
Imperial Coinage before 217 A.D.: 27.28 g.`"Sestertius" 13.64 g.`"Dupondius" 10.91 g.`"As" 2.72 g.`"Quadrans"
Rhesaena under Caracalla: 6.13 g.`"Semis" 3.65 g.`"Triens" or "Quadrans"
Imperial Coinage after 217 A.D. Macrinus: 23.28 g.`"Sestertius" 11.69 g.`"Dupondius" 10.23 g.`"As"
Rhesaena under Severus Alexander 10.45 g.`"Dupondius" or "As" 5.73 g.`"Semis" 3.34 g.`"Triens" or "Quadrans"
Imperial Coinage after 247 A.D.`Philippus Arabs: and Traianus Decius: 20.46 g.`"Sestertius" 10.23 g.`"Dupondius" 9.63 g.`""As" 3.21 g.`"Triens," "Quadrans" or "Semis"
Rhesaena under Traianus Decius 249–251 A.D.: 12.14 g.`"Dupondius" 6.27 g.`"Semis" 3.39 g.`"Triens" or "Quadrans"

Table III

Obverse and Reverse Inscriptions under Trajan Decius

Obverse type Decius Etruscilla Herennius Decius and Etruscilla Decius and Herennius
Reverse type`a SO SO SO O1 O2
c SO SO SO SO O1 O2 O3
f LO LO O4

SO = short obverse inscription for Decius.

LO = long obverse inscription for Decius.

O1, 2, 3, 4 = various obverse inscriptions for Etruscilla.

SR = short reverse inscription.

LR = long reverse inscription. See above, pp. 46f.

The obverses on types K L M are invariable.

Table IV. The Dupondii of Rhesaena during the reign of Trajan Decius. Obverse and Reverse Dies.
Obverse — Catalogue Number Reverse — Decius Etruscilla Herennius Decius and Etruscilla Decius and Herennius
A B C D E F G H I K L M Reverse:`Dies:
a`Tyche sitting 1. B1`B2 45 a1`46 a2 C1`C1`C1`C2`C2 47 a3`48 a4`49 a5`50 a6`51 a7 E1 52 a8 G1 157 a1 H1`H1`H1 158 a9`159 a10`160 a11 11
b`Temple with roof A1`A1`A2 53 b1`54 b2`55 b3 B1`B2`B2 56 b3`57 b4`58 b5 C2`C2`C2`C2 59 b6`60 b7`61 b8`62 b9 ? F1`F1 63 b8`64 b10 G1`G1 161 b1`162 b3 H1 163 b11 11
c`Temple without roof B2 65 c1 C1`C2`C2`C2`C2`C2`C2 66 c2`67 c3`68 c4`69 c5`70 c6`71 c7`72 c8 E1`E1`E1`E1`E1`E1 73 c9`74 c10`75 c3`76 c11`77 c12`78 c13 F1 79 c14 G1 164 c15 H1 165 c2 I1`I1`I2 166 c16`167 c17`168 c18 18
d`Concordia B3 80 d1 C3`C3`C3`C4`C5`C5`C6 81 d2`82 d3`83 d4`84 d1`85 d5`86 d6`87 d7 D1`D1 88 d8`89 d9 E1`E1`E1`E1 90 d10`91 d11`92 d12`93 d4 I3`I3`I4 169 d13`170 d14`171 d15 M1`M1`M1`M1 185 d13`186 d15`187 d16`188 d17 17
e`Deductio coloniae C3`C5`C5`C5`C5`C5`C6`C6`C6`C7`C7`C7`C8`C9`C10`C10`C10`C10`C10 94 e1`95 e2`96 e3`97 e4`98 e5`99 e6`100 e7`101 e8`102 e9`103 e10`104 e11`105 e12`106 e13`107 e14`108 e15`109 e16`110 e17`111 e18`112 e19 D1`D1`D2`D3`D3`D3`D3 113 e20`114 e21`115 e22`116 e23`117 e24`118 e25`119 e26 E1`E1`E1`E1``E1 120 e1`121 e27`122 e28`123 e29`124 e30 I2`I3`I3 172 e31`173 e25`174 e32 K1`K1`K2 178 e33`179 e24`180 e24 L1`L1`L1 181 e33`182 e34`183 e35 M1`M1`M1 189 e36`190 e25`191 e37 37
f`Fortuna C5`C5`C5`C5`C5`C6`C6`C6`C7`C10`C11`C12`C12`C12`C12`C12`C12`C13`C14 125 f1`126 f2`127 f3`128 f4`129 f5`130 f6`131 f7`132 f8`133 f9`134 f10`135 f11`136 f11`137 f12`138 f13`139 f14`140 f15`141 f16`142 f17`143 f18 D4 144 f19 I3`I3`I3 175 f20`176 f21`177 f22 ? L1 184 f21 M1 192 f23 23
Obverse Dies: 2 3 14 4 1 1 1 4 2 1 1 35
Table V. Medium and Small Copper Coinage of Rhesaena under Decius
Issue Medium Copper Coins, Semis Small Copper Coins, Triens or Quadrans
Obverse B`to right, from back, laureate, nude Obverse C`to right, from back, laureate, with paludamentum Obverse B`to right, from back, laureate, nude
a`Tyche sitting left AYT KΓ MK TP ΔEKIOΣ ΣEB ΣEΠ PHΣAINHΣIΩN image
b`Temple with roof
c`Temple without roof B1 No. 151 v1
B1`B1`B1 No. 145`No. 146`No. 147 d1`d2`d3 C1`C1`C1 No. 148`No. 149`No. 150 d3`d4`d5 B2`B2`B2`B2`B2 No. 152`No. 153`No. 154`No. 155`No. 156 V2`V3`V4`V5`V6

Reverse-dies of the Semis: d1–d5. Reverse-dies of the Triens (Quadrans): V (= verso) 1–V6.

Table VI. Probable Time of Coinage of the Coins of Rhesaena
Emperor: Time of Coinage:
Caracalla :
First Municipal coins Nos. 19–23 About 211–213/14
First Vexillum-coins Nos. 1–12 About 216–2.IV.217
Vexillum-coin No. 13 About 211–217
Second Vexillum-coins Nos. 14–16 After May 16, 218–219
Second Municipal coins Nos. 23–24 About 219–March, 222
Severus Alexander:
Third Vexillum-coins Nos. 17, 17/I, 18 Perhaps March 222–225
Third Municipal coins Nos. 25–44 About 232–233
Trajan Decius and his family:
Dupondii a,b,c:~Nos.45–79, 157–168 About end of 249-first half of 250
First Triens No. 151
Dupondii: Nos. 80–93, 169–171, 185–188
Semis Nos. 145–150 Probably second half of 250
Second Triens~Nos. 152–156
Dupondii e, f: Nos. 94–144, 172–177, 178–180, 181–184, 189–192 About end of 250-first half of 251

End Notes

92 The question arises whether a single issue was used only once or whether, as in the case of the imperial coins, from time to time the earlier type was used again. In Rhesaena it seems highly probable that the former was the case. At least we know of no coin which indicates a second use.

End Notes

1 For the history of the region in general see Chapot, La frontière de l'Euphrate, Paris, 1907; Sarre and Herzfeld, Archaeologische Reise im Euphrat- und Tigris-gebiet, Berlin, 1913–20; Oppenheim, Der Tell Halaf, Leipzig, 1931.
2 Hasebroek, Untersuchungen zur Geschichte des Kaisars Septimius Severus , Heidelberg, 1921; Schachermeyr, "Mesopotamien" in Pauly-Wissowa-Kroll, Real-Encyclopädie, XV, 1. cols. 1158–1163.
3 Schachermeyr, loc. cit.
4 Domaszewski, "Die Rangordnung der römischen Heeres," Bonner Jahrbücher, 117, (1908).
5 Schachermeyr, op. cit.; Rostovtzeff, Gesellschaft und Wirtschaft im Römischen Kaiserreich, Leipzig, 1929, II, p. 115; Hirschfeld, Die Kaiserlichen Verwaltungsbeamten, II, Berlin, 1905, 375; 396.
6 Chapot, La frontière de l'Euphrate, p. 164.
7 Cassius Dio, 75, 9, 1; Hasebroek, op. cit., pp. 76, 78–9.
8 Schachermeyr, op. cit., col. 1161.
9 Schachermeyr, loc. cit.
10 Oppenheim, Tell Halaf, p. 37.
11 Oppenheim, op. cit., pp. 68f.
12 Cf. Rostovtzeff et al., Preliminary Reports I–VIII.