ELAGABALUS GOLD AUREUS – FAMOUS TYPE SHOWING THE STONE OF EMESA BLACK METEORITE – CHOICE XF NGC GRADED ROMAN IMPERIAL COIN (Inv. 14036)
ROMAN EMPIRE. ELAGABALUS, AD 218-222.
Gold aureus, 6.68 g, 21 mm., minted in Rome AD 220-222.
Obv. IMP ANTONINVS PIVS AVG, laureated, draped and cuirassed bust of Elagabalus right.
Rev. CONSERVATOR AVG, quadriga moving left, carrying conical stone of Emesa decorated with an eagle; star above.
RIC 61; Calicó 2988a (this coin, illustrated)
Ex Triton III, 11/30/1999, 1130 = CNG 49, 3/17/1999, 1682
NGC graded as CHOICE XF, Strike 5/5 Surface 3/5, extremely rare and among the most fascinating of all Roman types. This coin depicts the ritual transport of the “stone of Emesa,” likely a black meteorite, associated with the cult of the god El-Gabal (Elagabalus). Varius Avitus Bassianus, the emperor commonly known today by this religious name, was a priest of the Emesan sun god and had the holy relic brought to Rome once he became emperor. Special temples were built to accomodate the stone in its location and the ancient author Herodian (V.6.7) describes the yearly transfer of the stone from its new Palatine temple to one nearby the city where it resided in the summer: “A six-horse chariot bore the sun god, the horses huge and flawlessly white, with expensive gold fittings and rich ornaments. No one held the reins, and no one rode in the chariot; the vehicle was escorted as if the sun god himself were the charioteer. Heliogabalus ran backward in front of the chariot, facing the god and holding the horses’ reins. He made the whole journey in this reverse fashion, looking up into the face of his god.” After Elagabalus’ fall from power and assassination, the stone was returned to its home city of Emesa, where it is shown on coins.