||Tomis - 4.5 assaria - Gordian III and Tranquillina / Asclepius||
28.6 mm diameter, 14.26 g, bronze |
Obverse: confronted busts of Gordian III and Sabinia Tranquillina, cuirassed and draped Gordian III to the right, draped Sabinia Tranquillina to the left, wearing "stephane" crown, legend AVTKM·ANTΩNIΓOPΔIANOC TPANKVΛI NA, outer pearl circle
|Reverse: Asclepius standind, head to the left, wearing himation, left hand resting on his serpent-entwined staff (rod of Asclepius), value D< (Δ<, written as ligature) into the field, legend MHTP[OΠ]ONTOVTOMEΩC, outer pearl circle|
The ancient coin on the page is present on Romanian coins through the kind permission of Mr. Pavlos S. Pavlou.
The coin corresponds to the description at number 2266 in the Moushmov catalog and is described in AMNG I at position 3528 (AMNG = Die antiken Münzen Nord-Griechenlands, B. Pick, 1898).
About the denomination of the coin
The denomination value is marked by letter Δ together with sign <. Letter Δ being the fourth of the alphabet, stands for the value of 4. The half of assarion was marked by an <, so the coin is worth 4.5 assaria.
The coins of 4 assaria and a half are specific to Tomis, while the design with confronted busts is specific to the provincial large 5 assaria pieces. A possible explanation was proposed here. These coin were local coins. In spite of the fact that the value of 1 denarius was, officially, 16 asses, it is quite possible that in local money the denarius was worth more. If 1 Roman denarius was equal with 18 asses from Tomis, than it could be exchanged for four coins of 4.5 assaria. In that case the issue of coins having such unusual denomination can be explained by the need of coins fit for money exchanges.
About the legend on the obverse
The legend accompanying the busts of emperor Gordian III and of his wife Tranquillina is AVT K M · ANTΩNI ΓOPΔIANOC TPANKVΛINA, standing for the Greek translation of Latin IMPERATOR CAESAR MARCUS ANTONIUS GORDIANUS and TRANQUILLINA.
Asclepius (Aesculapius at Romans) was the god of medicine. He was son of Apollo and of a daughter of a Greek king, and he was born in Epidaurus, into Peloponnese, where a large sancuary of Asclepius functioned. Asclepius was raised by Chiron, a Centaurus, from whom he learned the art of healing. Because he managed even to raise the deads, Zeus was angry and struck him with a thunderbolt. After death Asclepius was transformed into a constellation. Podalirius and Machaon, the medics of the Greeks during the Trojan War, were sons of Asclepius. He had also a daughter, Hygieia, personification of health, who also appeared on coins from Tomis.