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4 assaria - Caracalla / Dioscuri
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4 assaria - Caracalla / Dioscuri - Greek imperial coin from Tomis - obverse 4 assaria - Caracalla / Dioscuri - Greek imperial coin from Tomis - reverse
27 mm diameter, 10.6 grams, AE
Obverse: laureate Caracalla to the right, draped and cuirassed bust, legend AV·K·M·AV·ANTΩNEINOCCE, outer pearl circle
Reverse: half-naked Dioscuri sitting, to the left, with star above the head of the brother on left; each of them holding a patera into the extended right hand and pouring water or wine from amphorae hold in the right hand; monetary value 4 (Δ = D = 4), outer pearl circle
legend MHTPOΠ·ΠONTOY TOMEΩC (the last word in exergue)

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. The coin corresponds to the description at number 1939 in the Moushmov catalog and is described in AMNG I at position 2872 (AMNG = Die antiken Münzen Nord-Griechenlands, B. Pick, 1898).

About the legend on the obverse

The legend accompanying the portrait of Caracalla, AV K M AV ANTΩNEINOC CE, is the Greek translation of the Latin IMP(erator) M(arcus) AVR(elius) ANTONINVS AVGUSTUS. The word imperator was translated by autocrator (autokrates in Greek meaning governing by one's self), IMP being replaced by AV. Letter K following AV is the short for Kaisar, Caesar. CE from SEVASTOS is the short for AV(GVSTUS).

About emperor Caracalla

Caracalla (188 - 217) was the eldest son of emperor Septimius Severus and empress Julia Domna. The name Caracalla is actual a nickname given by historians in order to differentiate him from Elagabalus (who was proclaimed emperor under the same official name). It seems that the nickname came from a cloak or mantle used in Gaul. Caracalla had the habit to wear such a mantle during his military campaigns.

At birth Caracalla was named Septimius Bassianus, after the name of his father and of his grandfather. In 196 AD Septimius Severus gave the title of Caesar to his son, and with this occasion the name of Caracalla was changed to Marcus Aurelius Antoninus. This measure was a political one: the new name claimed a kinship (inexistent in reality) with the emperors from the Antoninian dynasty. In 198 AD Caracalla has received the title of Augustus, and he ruled together with his father until 211 AD. In 211 and 212 Caracalla ruled together with his brother Geta. Geta was assassinated in the very arms of his mother as ordered by Caracalla himself.

Caracalla left the administration of the state in the hand of his mother, empress Julia Domna. To cope with the expenses a monetary reform was imposed, degrading the amount of precious metal inside the aureus from 7.266 grams to 6.54 grams 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.

Emperor Caracalla was killed in 217 AD by a centurion from his personal guard, instigated by Macrinus, prefect of the praetorium.

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