||5 assaria - Severus Alexander - Histria||
29.5 mm, 16.9 g, bronze
Obverse: laureate Severus Alexander to the right, cuirassed and draped bust, outer pearl circle and Greek legend AVT[KM]AVPCEB AΛE[Z]AN[Δ]PΩC
Reverse: Greek goddess Nemesis standing, to the left, holding balance (scales) in the right hand and a cubit rule in the left hand, a wheel on the ground at left, in the field digit 5 (Greek letter E, marking the face value of 5 assaria);
inscription ICTPI HNΩN, Istrienon
About emperor Severus Alexander
Severus Alexander was son of Cassius Marcianus and of Julia Mammaea, being nephew of Julia Domna. At birth he was named Marcus Julius Gessius Alexianus Bassianus. In 221 AD he was adopted by his cousin, emperor Elagabalus. He was proclaimed Caesar, his name being changed to Marcus Aurelius Severus Alexander.
Severus Alexander became emperor in 222 AD, following the death of Elagabalus. Until year 226 the empire was governed by his grandmother Julia Maesa, and after 226, by his mother, Julia Mammaea. In 234 AD Severus Alexander was assasinated together with his mother and the throne was occupied by Maximinus Thrax.
About the legend on the coin's obverse
The legend accompanying the portrait of Severus Alexander, AVT K M AVP CEB AΛEZANΔPΩC, is the Greek translation of the Latin IMP[ERATOR] C[AESAR] M[ARCUS] AUR[ELIUS] AUG[USTUS] ALEXANDER. 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. The Latin word AUGUSTUS was translated in Greek SEBASTOS, AVG being replaced by CEB.
About the face value of the coin
This coins features the denomination value in the shape of letter E placed in the field, at right. Letter E (epsilon) being the fifth of the Greek alphabet, it stood for the value of 5, so that the piece was worth five assaria. The assarion was used for certain bronze coins struck by several Greek cities on the western and northern rim of the Black Sea (Tomis, Callatis, Chersones, Tyras, Olbia and many more).
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.