||4 assaria - Elagabalus / Heracles - Histria||
27 mm, 12.3 g, bronze
Obverse: laureate Elagabalus to the right, cuirassed and draped bust, legend AKMAVPH ANTΩNINOC, outer pearl circle
Reverse: Heracles nude standing, with club in the raised right hand, holding the three apples of Hesperides in the left hand; over the left arm the hero holds the skin of the Nemean lion; circular legend ICTP IHNΩN, outer pearl circle
The ancient coin pictures above are present on Romanian coins through the kind permission of Mr. Răzvan Dobrin. The coin belongs to the category of provincial Roman coins, sometimes called Greek imperial. Based on the mass, the piece is probably a 4 assarion coin (or maybe 5).
About emperor Elagabalus
Elagabalus, also known as Heliogabalus, was named Varius Avitus Bassianus Elagabalus at birth. He was the son of Roman knight Sextus Varius Marcellus and of Julia Soaemias, being the nephew of Julia Maesa (sister of Julia Domna). On May 16th 218 he was proclaimed emperor at Emessa in Syria. Julia Maesa spread the rumor that Elagabalus was the natural son of Caracalla. So the name of the new emperor was changed to Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, the name of Caracalla, his pretended father. Elagabalus was priest of Sun god Baal of Emessa, El Gabal. As emperor he proclaimed the Sun as the supreme god of the empire, and he brought at Rome the black stone of the god of Emessa. In 221 he adopted his cousin Severus Alexander, who followed him to the throne. In March 222 Elagabalus was assasinated by the soldiers of the Praetorian Guard.
About the legend on the coin's obverse
The legend accompanying the portrait of Elagabalus, A K M AVPH ANTΩNINOC, is the Greek translation of the Latin I[MPERATOR] C[AESAR] M[ARCUS] AUR[ELIUS] ANTONINUS. The word imperator was translated by autocrator (autokrates in Greek meaning governing by one's self), IMP being replaced by AVT. Letter K following AVT is a short for Kaisar, Caesar.
About the small dimples on the coin
On the obverse as well as on the reverse some tiny dimples can be seen (also clearly visible on several provincial Roman coins present on our site). The signification of these dimples is not completely clear, the most common opinion being that they served a certain purpose during minting. So, they would be some sort of centering holes.