DETAIL: This is a very handsome silver antoninianus produced in the city of Rome itself between 246 and 247 A.D. It is in very good condition evidencing only light wear from circulation in ancient Rome. All legends and themes are very clear and distinct. It was well struck both front and back, well centered, the coin uncommonly round and regular, and unlike most coins of the era, the strike caught the entirely of both the legends and the themes, and this is applicable to both the obverse as well as the reverse. It is without a doubt a superior strike. The obverse is a very nice strike in high profile. The reverse strike is of slightly lower profile, this consequence of the fact that the Roman mints tended to use the reverse dies about three times as long as they did the obverse dies (which of course contained the portrait of the emperor).
In fact in many instances as the reverse die wore (excessively), the coins struck from them became progressively lower and profile, until finally in many cases the reverse was almost indeterminable. This specimen is not at all in such a sad condition. In any event, consequentially, the reverse sides of most Roman coins will be of lower profile than the obverse side, and this is the case with this particular specimen, an interesting though certainly not unique or uncommon feature. The obverse of the coin depicts Roman Emperor Philip I, draped and cuirassed, wearing radiate crown; and the legend "IMP M IVL PHILLIPVS AVG". "M IVL PHILIPPVS" refers to the Emperor's name, Marcus Julius Philippis. "IVL" is short for Julius, there was no "J" in Roman Latin.
The "IMP" preface to his name is an abbreviation for "Imperator". Imperator was originally a title or acclamation awarded to victorious generals in the field during the Republic Period (before Julius Caesar). Throughout the history of Republican Rome, the title was bestowed upon an especially able general who had won an enormous victory. Traditionally it was the troops in the field that proclaimed a man imperator - the first step in the process of the general applying to the senate for a triumph (a ceremony both civil and religious held in Rome itself to publicly honor the general and to display/parade the glories and trophies of Roman victory).
Imperatrix was the title of the wife an Imperator. After Augustus Octavian (Julius Caesar's successor) had established the hereditary, one-man rule in Rome that we refer to as the Imperial Roman Empire, the title Imperator was restricted to the emperor and members of his immediate family. If a general who was not part of the imperial family was acclaimed by his troops as Imperator, it was tantamount to a declaration of rebellion or civil war against the ruling emperor. Though the title Augustus is probably the closest Latin equivalent to the English word emperor; it was eventually the term Imperator which became the root of the English word "Imperial".
The suffix to Philip's name, "AVG", was an abbreviation for Augustus. The term "Augustus" is Latin for "majestic" (thus the honorific salutation "your majesty"). However the term "Augustus" in the common vernacular of the Roman Empire became synonymous with the Emperor. The first "Augustus" (and first man counted as a Roman Emperor) was Octavius, Julis Caesar's nephew and heir. Octavian was given the title of Augustus by the Senate in 27 B.C. Over the next forty years, Caesar Augustus literally set the standard by which subsequent Emperors would be recognised, accumulating various offices and powers and making his own name ("Augustus") identifiable with the consolidation of these powers under a single person. Although the name signified nothing in constitutional theory, it was recognised as representing all the powers that Caesar Augustus eventually accumulated.
Caesar Augustus also set the standard by which Roman Emperors were named. The three titles used by the majority of Roman Emperors; "Imperator", "Caesar", and "Augustus" were all used personally by Caesar Augustus (he officially styled himself "Imperator Caesar Augustus"). However of the name "Augustus" was unique to the Emperor himself (though the Emperor's mother or wife could bear the name "Augusta"). But others could and did bear the titles "Imperator" and "Caesar". Later useage saw the Emperor adding the additional titles "Pius Felix ("pious and blessed") and "Invictus" ("unconquered") in addition to the title "Augustus"). In this usage, by signifying the complete assumption of all Imperial powers, "Augustus" became roughly synonymous with "Emperor" in modern language. As the Roman Empire began splintering, Augustus came to be the title applied to the senior Emperor, while the title "Caesar" came to refer to his "junior" sub-Emperors.
M. Julius Philippus is often referred to as "Philip the Arab" as he was a native of Arabia, his father, Julius Marinus, a prominent native leader and Roman Citizen. He was born in the Roman province of Arabia, in what today is the village of Shahba, roughly 55 miles south-southeast of Damascus. The village was obscure at the time of Philip's birth, though once he became emperor, Philip renamed the community Philippopolis and embarked on a major building campaign.
Philip's brother Julius Pricus undoubtedly helped Philip's early career along by that of his brother. Priscus had been appointed Praetorian Prefect, and prior to that time had been Prefect of the Roman Province of Mesopotamia. Ultimately Philip was also appointed to the post of Praetorian Prefect by his predecessor, young Gordian III. The two brothers were likely the emperor Gordian's most powerful deputies during the disastrous campaign against the Persians in the winter of 243-44. Within two years after his appointment, the treacherous Philip engineered the murder of Gordian III, aged 19, while in Mesopotamia on campaign against the Persians.
It's not known why Philip was proclaimed emperor rather than his more experienced brother Pricus, but it is know that Philip negotiated a quick peace treaty with the Persian King Shapur in which Philip agreed to pay the equivalent of 50 million sesterces, and possibly an annual tribute. This allow Philip to return to Rome where he intimidated the Senate into acknowledging him as Augustus, and then appointed his own son, Philip II as Caesar. Philip's brother Pricus went on to become Philip's as "Rector Orientis", exercising supreme authority over the Roman armies and provinces of the east from his headquarters in Antioch.
The chief event during the reign of Philip I was the 248 AD celebration of the 1,000 year anniversary for the founding of Rome. There were magnificent games featuring wild beasts, and a series of coins were struck to commemorate the events. In 247 AD Philip I elevated his son to the rank of co-Augustus, and moved North to campaign against barbarian tribes on the Danube River. His absence from Rome encouraged a number of usurpers, and in 249 AD he was finally forced to engage the rebellious legions of Trajan Decius in battle. The two armies met near Verona, and in the battle Philip I and his son Philip II were both killed (though some versions of history have Philip II surviving for a few more months in Rome). Naturally Trajan Decius, rebel, subsequently became Emperor Trajan Decius.
The image of Philip depicted on this coin shows him wearing a radiate crown. The radiate crown, common on the dupondius and antoninianus coins of Roman origin, is reference to divinity, specifically to the Greco-Roman Sun God Sol (or Helios, to the ancient Greeks, and Apollo to the later Greeks). The ancient Greeks generally portrayed their sun god as radiate crowned - as can be seen depicted on the reverse of many ancient Greek (and ultimately Roman) coins. Eventually the Emperors of Rome borrowed the theme, not only depicting a Crowned God Sol on the reverse of their coins, but as well bestowing these divine attributes upon the obverse depiction of their Emperors.
The Emperor is also depicted wearing a cuirass. Roman muscle cuirass armor was considered a sign of a high ranking commander and was worn by Roman Emperors, Praetorian Prefects, Roman Generals, Praetorian Tribunes, and Legionary Legates. Examples of this type of armor can be seen in Roman marble statues and engravings at various museums throughout the world. They were constructed of a leather-trimmed, thin sheet of metal (bronze, silver, or gold) and covered the chest and back. The metal work was generally very elaborate, and in the form of various gods or goddesses, mythological creatures, or the Roman eagle. There has only been one (fragmentary) ancient Roman cuirass ever recovered.
The reverse of the coin features the Roman Goddess of Joy and Gladness, Laetitia, accompanied by the legend "LAET FVNDATA". The Goddess is generally depicted wearing a stola, a sleeveless outer garment worn by mature women over the tunic (or chemise). Generally she is depicted holding a wreath (or garland) in one hand and a scepter or hasta pura (ceremonial spear) in the other hand. Occasionally in place of the scepter she might be depicted holding a rudder (which sometimes in turn rests upon a globe), allegory to Rome's dominion over the maritime world (and of course the benefits of that dominion - grain). The rudder also signified divine (or imperial) guidance toward fortune, or steering toward prosperity.
Rarely in place of the rudder Laetitia might be depicted resting her hand upon an anchor (again a maritime symbol, symbolizing stability, as well as the bounty, i.e., the grain supply from Egypt and Africa, which is the largess of Rome's maritime fleet). Laetitia is also occasionally depicted holding corn ears or stalks or sheaves of wheat ears in one hand and an apple in the other (the apple and the wheat or corn signifying abundance, fertility, prosperity, "good times"). Occasionally she might also be depicted holding a branch in one hand (representing bountiful vegetation/crops) and a crown in the other. Branches were used to decorate Roman homes and streets during festivals, so in that sense tree branches signified joy and gladness (as in "deck the halls with boughs of holly").
The hasta pura she is occasionally depicted holding (substituting for a scepter) was a ceremonial lance (spear, pike) without an iron head, oftentimes with a knob at the end, the forerunner of the standard pilum issued to Roman soldiers. The hasta was derived by the Roman from the Etrurians, who called it a "corim". By the Sabines it was called a "quiris", their king called "coritos" as the spear was to them an attribute of royalty. The Hasta was the symbol not only of power, fortitude and valor, but also of majesty and even divinity. It is one of the insignia of the Gods, and of the Emperors and Augustae after their apotheosis, implying that they had become objects of worship. It is generally found in the hands of female divinities, as the war-spear is in those of warriors and heroes. Its name literally means "blameless spear", and it was sometimes awarded ceremoniously to soldiers who had saved another's life.
The wreath or garland she is most often depicted actually derives from Greek mythology and the Olympic games. A wreath or garland of laurel leaves is an attribute of the Graeco-Roman God Apollo, and is a symbol of victory. In Roman coinage the emperor is often depicted being crowned with such a wreath by the Goddess of Victory, "Victoria" (known to the Greeks as "Nike"). In Greek Mythology, Apollo declared that wreaths were to be awarded to victors, both in athletic competitions and poetic meets under his care. Thus in ancient Greece laurel wreaths became the prize awarded in athletic, musical, and poetic competitions. For instance by the 6th century B.C., the winners of the ancient Greek Pythian Games (forerunner of the Olympics and held every four years at Delphi) were awarded a wreath of laurel leaves.
The symbolism was inherited (or mimicked) by the Romans, to whom the bestowal of a laurel wreath became the sign of a victorious general acclaimed by his troops. After defeating Pompey, the Roman Senate not only voted Julius Caesar Imperator for life, but also awarded him the right to wear the laurel wreath in perpetuity. From that point on it is said that Julius Caesar always appeared in public laureate, and all of his coinage depicted Julius Caesar wearing the laurel leaf crown. Thus the laurel leaf crown became associated not only with the victorious general, but became a symbol of the office of Caesar and Imperator. There were other types of wreaths in Graeco-Roman Mythology as well. Dionysus was oftentimes depicted either with a wreath of ivy or with a wreath composed of grape leaves. Zeus was oftentimes depicted with a wreath of oak leaves, and wreathes of roses became associated with Aphrodite. And again, wreathes were worn by many during festivals and so became associated with holidays and merry-making.
The legend "LAET FVNDATA" is intended to convey a propagandistic message. The first part of the legend, "LAET", is obviously an abbreviation for "Laetitia". The second portion of the legend, "FVNDATA", like the English word "fundamental" or "foundation", means well-founded, as in well-founded rejoicing. Why well-founded rejoicing? Because after murdering Gordian, his predecessor, Philip negotiated a quick treaty with the Persians, allowing him to return to Rome and demand that the Senate recognize him as Augustus. How do you put a good spin on selling out on a scale like that? With good propaganda, i.e., let us rejoice in our new-found peace with the Persians.
Your purchase includes, upon request, mounting of this coin in either pendant style "a" or "d" as shown here. Pendant style "a" is a clear, airtight acrylic capsule designed to afford your ancient coin maximum protection from both impact damage and degradation. It is the most "politically correct" mounting. Style "d" is a sterling silver pendant. Either pendant styles include a sterling silver chain (16", 18", or 20"). Upon request, there are also an almost infinite variety of other pendants which might well suit both you and your ancient coin pendant, and include both sterling silver and solid 14kt gold mountings, including those shown here. As well, upon request, we can also make available a huge variety of chains in lengths from 16 to 30 inches, in metals including sterling silver, 14kt gold fill, and solid 14kt gold.. We will ship within one business day of our receipt of your electronic remittance.
HISTORY: Coins came into being during the seventh century B.C. in Lydia and Ionia, part of the Greek world, and were made from a naturally occurring alloy of gold and silver. Each coin blank was heated and struck with a hammer between two engraved dies. Unlike modern coins, they were not uniformly round. Each coin was wonderfully unique. Coinage quickly spread to the island and city states of Western Greece. Alexander the Great (336-323 B.C.) then spread the concept of coinage throughout the lands he conquered. Ancient coins are archaeological treasures from the past. They were buried for safekeeping because of their value and have been slowly uncovered throughout modern history. Oftentimes soldiers the night before battle would bury their coins and jewelry, hoping and believing that they would live long enough to recover them, and to return to their family. Killed in battle, these little treasure hoards remain until today scattered throughout Western and Eastern Europe, even into the Levant and Persia.
As well, everyone from merchants to housewives found the safest place to keep their savings was buried in a pot, or in some other secretive location. If they met an unexpected end, the whereabouts of the merchants trade goods or the household's sugar jar money might never be known. Recently a commercial excavation for a new building foundation in London unearthed a Roman mosaic floor. When archaeologists removed the floor, they found 7,000 silver denarii secreted beneath the floor. Even the Roman mints buried their produce. There were over 300 mints in the Roman Empire striking coinage. Hoards of as many as 40,000 coins have been found in a single location near these ancient sites. Ancient coins reflect the artistic, political, religious, and economic themes of their times. The acquisition of ancient coins is a unique opportunity to collect art which has been appreciated throughout the centuries.
Coins of the Roman Empire most frequently depicted the Emperor on the front of the coins, and were issued in gold, silver, and bronze. The imperial family was also frequently depicted on the coinage, and, in some cases, coins depicted the progression of an emperor from boyhood through maturity. The reverse side of often served as an important means of political propaganda, frequently extolling the virtues of the emperor or commemorating his victories. Many public works and architectural achievements such as the Coliseum and the Circus Maximus were also depicted. Important political events such as alliances between cities were recorded on coinage. Many usurpers to the throne, otherwise unrecorded in history, are known only through their coins. Interestingly, a visually stunning portrayal of the decline of the Roman Empire is reflected in her coinage. The early Roman bronze coins were the size of a half-dollar. Within 100-150 years those had shrunk to the size of a nickel. And within another 100-150 years, to perhaps half the size of a dime.
One of the greatest civilizations of recorded history was the ancient Roman Empire. In exchange for a very modest amount of contemporary currency, you can possess a small part of that great civilization in the form of a 2,000 year old piece of jewelry. The Roman civilization, in relative terms the greatest military power in the history of the world, was founded in the 8th century (B.C.). In the 4th Century (B.C.) the Romans were the dominant power on the Italian Peninsula, having defeated the Etruscans and Celts. In the 3rd Century (B.C.) the Romans conquered Sicily, and in the following century defeated Carthage, and controlled the Greece. Throughout the remainder of the 2nd Century (B.C.) the Roman Empire continued its gradual conquest of the Hellenistic (Greek Colonial) World by conquering Syria and Macedonia; and finally came to control Egypt in the 1st Century (B.C.).
The pinnacle of Roman power was achieved in the 1st Century (A.D.) as Rome conquered much of Britain and Western Europe. For a brief time, the era of "Pax Romana", a time of peace and consolidation reigned. Civilian emperors were the rule, and the culture flourished with a great deal of liberty enjoyed by the average Roman Citizen. However within 200 years the Roman Empire was in a state of steady decay, attacked by Germans, Goths, and Persians. In the 4th Century (A.D.) the Roman Empire was split between East and West. The Great Emperor Constantine temporarily arrested the decay of the Empire, but within a hundred years after his death the Persians captured Mesopotamia, Vandals infiltrated Gaul and Spain, and the Goths even sacked Rome itself. Most historians date the end of the Western Roman Empire to 476 (A.D.) when Emperor Romulus Augustus was deposed. However the Eastern Roman Empire (The Byzantine Empire) survived until the fall of Constantinople in 1453 A.D.
At its peak, the Roman Empire stretched from Britain in the West, throughout most of Western, Central, and Eastern Europe, and into Asia Minor. Valuables such as coins and jewelry were commonly buried for safekeeping, and inevitably these ancient citizens would succumb to one of the many perils of the ancient world. Oftentimes the survivors of these individuals did not know where the valuables had been buried, and today, two thousand years later caches of coins and rings are still commonly uncovered throughout Europe and Asia Minor. Roman Soldiers oftentimes came to possess large quantities of "booty" from their plunderous conquests, and routinely buried their treasure for safekeeping before they went into battle. If they met their end in battle, most often the whereabouts of their treasure was likewise, unknown. Throughout history these treasures have been inadvertently discovered by farmers in their fields, uncovered by erosion, and the target of unsystematic searches by treasure seekers. With the introduction of metal detectors and other modern technologies to Eastern Europe in the past three or four decades, an amazing number of new finds are seeing the light of day 2,000 years or more after they were originally hidden by their past owners. And with the liberalization of post-Soviet Eastern Europe, new markets have opened eager to share in these treasures of the Roman Empire.
These antiquities come from a number of collections which by and large originated here in Eastern Europe. As well, additional specimens are occasionally acquired from other institutions and dealers, principally in Eastern Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean. All of these artifacts are now in the United States and are available for immediate delivery via U.S. Mail. Proceeds of the sales benefit the Southern Urals State Student Association for Archaeological and Anthropological Studies in Russia; providing both postgraduate and undergraduate students with meaningful part-time employment, notebook computers, and both reference and study materials. It also supports other institutions and organizations within Russia involved in the study of anthropology and archaeology. All purchases are backed by an unlimited guarantee of satisfaction and authenticity. If for any reason you are not entirely satisfied with your purchase, you may return it for a complete and immediate refund of your entire purchase price.
SHIPPING: These antiquities come from a number of collections which by and large originated here in Eastern Europe. As well, additional specimens are occasionally acquired from other institutions and dealers, principally in Eastern Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean. All of these artifacts are now in the United States and are available for immediate delivery via U.S. Mail. All purchases are backed by an unlimited guarantee of satisfaction and authenticity. If for any reason you are not entirely satisfied with your purchase, you may return it for a complete and immediate refund of your entire purchase price. A certificate of authenticity (COA) is available upon request.
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