URANIUS ANTONINUS BRONZE COIN – ISSUE WITH THE STONE OF EMESA IN ITS TEMPLE – AU NGC GRADED ROMAN PROVINCIAL COIN (Inv. 17969)
ROMAN EMPIRE. URANIUS ANTONINUS, USURPER, AD 253-254 BC. PROVINCIAL ISSUE OF EMESA IN SYRIA
Bronze AE, 18.13 g, 31 mm. Dated issue of Seleucid Era 565 (AD 253/4).
Obv. Laureate, draped and cuirassed bust of Uranius right.
Rev. Stone of Emesa with Roman eagle on it, housed in a hexatyle temple below two parasols, crescent in pediment, , ЄΞΦ (date) in exergue.
Baldus 38-42. BMC 24. R. Delbrueck, “Uranius of Emesa”, NC 8 (1948), Series I, 2.
Ex Leu Numismatik AG 7, 10/24/2020, lot 1498.
NGC graded AU, Strike 5/5, Surface 2/5, “flan flaw”, the latter at the bottom rim of the coin not affecting the design. Rare, particularly in this state of preservation.
This is an exceptional example of a very rare issue, showing the sacred stone of El-Gabal, a religious relic that formed an important part in the propaganda of the emperor Elagabalus who brought it to Rome. The stone was returned to Emesa after the emperor’s assassination and it is seen here displayed in its local temple. The parasols that appear above the stone on the coinage of Elagabalus appear here as well, as does the eagle ornament applied on the stone.
The following is some background on Uranius Antoninus from the cataloguers of CNG:
“Uranius Antoninus is unknown from the ancient literary sources, although Zosimus perhaps confuses this usurper with two usurpers he names as Uranius and Antoninus during the reign of Severus Alexander. The little that is known about him comes entirely from his coinage. He came to power in the East in 253 AD during a period of great crisis and upheaval for the Roman Empire. At this time, the Sasanian king Shapur I made many incursions into Roman territory, even capturing the great city of Antioch, apparently just to show that he could: his armies burned and pillaged the communities in their path and took people and plunder back to their own territory. It may be that Uranius Antoninus came to power in order to defend his community from attack rather than out of any anti-Roman antipathy. He issued coins from the mint at Emesa, some of which feature the sacred stone of El-Gabal, which might indicate that Uranius was part of the Emesene royal family of priest-kings. The coins are dated in accordance with the Seleucid dating system, which is reflective of the region’s historical status as part of the Seleucid Empire. As with many usurpers, Uranius Antoninus’ reign did not last long, and he fell from power before Valerian I came eastwards in AD 254.”