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69 AD - The Year of Four Emperors

This silver tetradrachm from Alexandria, Egypt, of Vespasian finally made it through the mail system after a couple of months. It dates to the early days of the reign of Vespasian.


A regnal year 2 issue (Aug. 30, AD 60 - Aug 29th AD 70), it appealed to me for both the portrait and the date of issue. Regnal year 2 starts at the end of August in the year of four emperors - a period of transition after the death of Nero. The reverse celebrates Roman victory and peace in the war with Judea - although the war continued under Titus. Although he was declared emperor in July by his troops, Vespasian was formally proclaimed emperor by the Senate while he was in Egypt on 21 December 69. This coin issued across that period before and after he was formally proclaimed emperor.

Egypt, Alexandria, Vespasian, AD 69-79, BI Tetradrachm, dated RY 2 (AD 69/70).

Obv: AΥTOK KAIΣ ΣEB AOΥEΣΠAΣIANOΥ/ ΛB (Aυτοκρατορ Kαισαρ Σεβαστοσ Aουεσπασιανου), laureate head right; L B (date) below chin

Rev: EI-ΡH-NH (ειρηνη), Eirene standing left, holding branch and caduceus.



It pairs well with this coin from one of his defeated rivals, Galba, from a year earlier (regnal year 1). Eleutheria is the equivalent of Libertas - the personification of liberty. Here the coin can be narrowly dated to a very short window of less than 3 months.

Egypt, Alexandria, Galba, AD 68-69, BI Tetradrachm, dated RY 1 (8 June to 29 August AD 68)

Obv: [ΣΕΡΟΥΙ ΓΑΛΒΑ ΑΥΤΟΚ ΚΑ]ΙΣ ΣΕΒΑ, Laureate head right; L A (date) below chin

Rev: ΕΛΕΥΘΕΡΙA, Eleutheria standing left, resting elbow on column, holding wreath and scepter


For more coins from this period see Galba : First of Four Emperors in 69 AD


The portrait of Galba is from the NY Metropolitan Museum of Art. 16th century, Italian, Bronze, in exergue: SER[vius] GALBA AVG[ustus]

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