AQUILIA SEVERA, 2nd & 4th wife of Elagabalus
AE Dichalkon. 13.32g, 27.3mm
MINTED: PHOENICIA, Tyre, AD 220-221 & 221-222
REF: Rouvier 2401; BMC Phoenicia 417; AUB -
OBVERSE: IVL AQVILIA SEVERA AVG, draped bust right, wearing stephane.
REVERSE: TVRIORVM, Victory standing left, holding palm frond and wreath; palm tree and murex shell to left.
Good. Green-brown and somewhat rough surfaces, but with a fairly decent bust.
An affordable way of obtaining a coin of this otherwise scarce empress, who was a sacred Vestal Virgin whom Emperor Elagabalus married not once but twice, scandalizing his Roman subjects.
The island of Tyre, now part of Lebanon, was an ancient Phoenician settlement that originally also included a mainland township, known as the Old Town. When he was beseiging the city, Alexander the Great famously built a causeway across the several hundred yards of sea that separated Tyre from the coast and forced it to surrender. During the Roman period, Tyre flourished as a great maritime centre, often in rivalry with nearby Berytus (Beirut). Tyre was also famous in the ancient world for the production of an incredibly rare and expensive purple dye harvested from the murex shellfish. This Tyrian purple was used to colour the royal toga picta of the Roman emperors.
During the Roman civil war of AD 194, Tyre sided with future emperor Septimius Severus against Pescennius Niger, the Governor of Syria, who had also declared himself emperor. When Severus emerged victorious, he rewarded Tyre by making it the capital of the province of Syria, eventually raising it to the status of a Roman colony.
The provincial coinage of Tyre often drew on its ancient myths, and the amongst its legendary natives it counted Queen Dido, who founded the great city of Carthage, the princess Europa, who was abducted by Zeus in the form of a bull and taken to Crete, and Kadmos, Europa's brother, who taught the Greeks writing and the alphabet, and who also founded the Greek city of Thebes.
AQUILIA SEVERA . PHOENICIA, Tyre . AE27 . Vestal Virgin wife of Elagabalus
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