Histria - Julia Domna
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Histria, Julia Domna
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bronze - Julia Domna - Histria
25 mm, 8-9 g, bronze
Obverse: Julia Domna to the right, draped bust, and
Greek legend: IOVΛIAΔO__MHACE

Reverse: Greek thalassic symbol: sea eagle clawing a dolphin and inscription ICTPIHNΩN

The images of this old coin are present on Romanian coins thanks to Mr Janos Csorik. The coin belongs to the category of provincial Roman coins, sometimes called Greek imperial. The coin corresponds to the description at number 172 in the Moushmov catalog.

Based on diameter and mass, we can suppose that the coin was worth 4 asses (assaria). It was issued between 193 and 217 AD.

About the legend on the coin

The legend accompanying the portrait of Julia Domna, IOVΛIA ΔOMHA CE, is the Greek translation of the Latin IVLIA DOMNA AVGUSTA. The Latin word augusta was translated in Greek sebaste, AVG being replaced by CE.

Based on the diameter and mass, the piece is probably a 3 assarion coin (or maybe 4).

About empress Julia Domna

Julia Domna (170? - 217 AD) is to be known as the woman who ruled the Roman Empire. Julia Martha until her marriage, she was the daughter of Julius Bassianus, priest in the Sun God temple in Emesa. In 187 she married emperor Septimius Severus, as his second wife, with whom she had two sons: Bassianus (the future emperor Caracalla, from which the inhabitants of the Romanian municipium of Caracal believe the name of their city was inherited) and Geta (also future emperor). After 212 AD while her son was engaged in frontier campaigns she ruled the Empire. She gathered around her a fair amount of men of culture (Diogenes Laertius, Apuleius, Dio Cassius) and jurists, most of them disciples of Papinianus.

During the administration of Julia Domna the Antoninian Constitution was drawn up - an edict through which Roman citizenship was granted to many inhabitants of the Empire - and also the work Itinerarium Antonini Augusti - a guide for the roads throughout the Empire, with cities and distances in between. To cope with the expenses a monetary reform was imposed, degrading the amount of precious metal inside the aureus and introducing the Antoninianus. Antoninianus was a 5.45 gram piece, holding 20% silver, and stated officially as being worth two silver denarii. The new coin was conventionally named antoninianus, after emperor's name. The real name used in the 3rd century is unknown.

Septimius Severus, the husband of Julia Domna, was a very superstitious man. He often consulted oracles, the predictions of which had promissed him to become emperor. To get married a second time Septimius Severus studied the horoscopes of several possible wifes, afterwards choosing Julia Domna, because she was foretold to marry a king. These predictions fulfilled in 193.

Julia Domna received a bunch of honorific titles, as Pious (PIA), Happy (FELIX) or Mother of Emperors, of Castri (forts), of the Homeland and Mother of the Senate. The honorific title Mater castrorum was conferred for the first time to empress Faustina the Younger in 174 AD, attesting the increased militarization of the Roman society in the times of emperor Marcus Aurelius.

Geta was assassinated in the very arms of his mother as ordered by Caracalla himself.

In 214 Julia Domna visited Dacia along Caracalla, spending a few months in the Dacian municipium of Porolissum (today the village of Moigrad in the county of Sălaj).

Domna is a cognomen, equal in sense with the Romanian word doamnă, the feminine of the Latin dominus (Romanian domn) that means lord.


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