Roman Egypt - well preserved group of 29 lead tesserae including Antinous . the favorite of the emperor Hadrian

Ancient Coins - Roman Egypt  - well preserved group of 29 lead tesserae  including Antinous . the favorite of the emperor Hadrian
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This  well preserved group of 29 lead tesserae from Roman Egypt is especially notable for the many pieces depicting Antinous (as a bust or on horseback), the favorite of the emperor Hadrian. The beauty and intelligence of the youth caught the attention of the emperor in AD 123 while Hadrian was visiting the city of Claudiopolis in Bithynia. By AD 128, Antinous had become a regular member of the imperial retinue and together they traveled throughout Greece, Asia Minor, Syria, Palestine, and Arabia  over the course of a year before moving on to Egypt. 

The affair came to an abrupt and tragic end in October of 130, when Antinous drowned while sailing down the Nile with the emperor. His death seems to have been accidental, but sinister rumors immediately arose suggesting that Hadrian had killed him in a quarrel or sacrificed him the god of the Nile. Regardless of whatever really happened, Hadrian was grief-stricken at the loss of Antinous and honored the dead youth by elevating him to the status of a god. The entire empire joined in his mourning by dedicating temples to the new deity, but perhaps nowhere as profoundly as in Egypt. The Egyptian village near the site of the drowning was refounded as Antinopolis (City of Antinous) and the divine Antinous, who was associated with the Egyptian god Osiris, became its chief local deity.

The Antinous tesserae in this group may perhaps have been struck for Antinopolis, perhaps as tokens used by visitors to purchase of sacrificial needs or religious goods at the temple of Antinous. We know from the descriptions of Hero of Alexandria (c. AD 10-70) that Egyptian temples already used an early form of coin- or token-operated vending machine to dispense vials of holy water to pilgrims. Alternatively, such Antinous tokens may have been sold as keepsakes to temple visitors. The fact that their types ultimately derive from Alexandrian bronze issues could also suggest a connection to celebrations of Antinous' divinity in the Egyptian capital.

It is perhaps only fitting that included with the Antinous tesserae are also numerous pieces depicting Nilus, the river god who simultaneously cost him his life and bestowed immortality upon him. Other tesserae in the group may also have temple or festival associations, such as those featuring Hermes, the Greek counterpart to Egyptian Thoth, whose major cult center was located at Hermopolis, just across the river from Antinopolis.

average : 19 mm , 3.50 gm
Preis SKU: as925
US$ 1,950.00
  • € 1,629.81
  • £ 1,416.68
  • AUD 2,536.36
  • CHF 1,798.29
  • CAD 2,449.00

Wechselkurs: 04/14/21

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