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Coins about Voting

Voting with pebbles detail from an Attic Red-Figured Kylix, 490–480 BC, attributed to the Brygos Painter, active about 490 - 470 BC. Public domain image used with thanks to the Getty Museum Collection.

Ancient coins and art can give us insights into ancient peoples. The coin that I share today shows an image of a representative voting in ancient Antioch, province of Syria, region of Seleucis and Pieria.

Seleucis and Pieria was a region within the greater province of Syria that included the northwestern part of modern Syria and southeastern Anatolia in modern Turkey. Seleucia was the ancient sea port and capital of the Seleucid empire under Seleucos I and Pieria refers Mt. Pieria, the mountain that rises above Seleucia. After Seleucus I was assassinated (281 BCE), his son, Antiochus I, moved the capital to Antioch. The region retained the name Seleucis and Pieria.

Dating System

I enjoy coins that can be pinpointed to a specific date, this one reads ЄIP (5+10+100 = Civic Year 115 dated from the start of the Caesarean Era). Civic years in Antioch were measured from the This date 115 years from the start 49/8 BC and a Caesarean era that Antioch began to use after Caesar granted the city Autonomy.'

More on the visit of Caesar to Antioch can be found here:

A Parthian invasion in 40BC disrupted this dating system - for a coin from this period see:

The Boule (βουλή), was a council (Greek: βουλευταί) in the representative democratic system of ancient Greek city states that was appointed to operate daily affairs or the city. This coin is a beautiful example showing, on the reverse, the voting of the Boule, by placing a pebble into an urn.

The First Jewish Revolt

This coin was issued during the time of the First Jewish Revolt against Rome and the last years of the reign of emperor Nero (reign 54 – 68 AD). The first legions sent from Syria to quell the rebellion failed and their commander Cestius Gallus died on his return to Syria (Spring of 67 AD).

"Insomuch that the soldiers, through the astonishment and fear they were in, left behind them their engines for sieges, and for throwing of stones, and a great part of the instruments of war. So the Jews went on pursuing the Romans as far as Antipatris, after which, seeing they could not overtake them, they came back, and took the engines, and spoiled the dead bodies, and gathered their prey together which the Romans had left behind them, and came back running and singing to their metropolis. While they had themselves lost a few only, but had slain of the Romans five thousand and three hundred footmen, and three hundred and eighty horsemen. This defeat happened on the eighth day of the month Dius, [Marhesvan], in the twelfth year of the reign of Nero."
-Josephus, Antiquities, 19.9

Licinius Mucianus succeeded Gallus in 67 AD as governor of Syria and emperor Nero appointed Vespasian, future emperor, as commander of the Roman forces to address the rebellion in Judea.

Syria, Seleucis and Pieria, city of Antioch a Pseudo-autonomous issue. Assarion (Bronze, 19 mm, 5.89g, 1h), CY 115 = 66/7 AD.

Obv: ΑΝΤΙ[ΟΧЄΩ]Ν Diademed head of Zeus to right

Rev: ЄTO - ЄIP Boule seated left, placing vote in urn

Ref: RPC I 4305. McAlee 112; Butcher Coinage in Roman Syria 141

Here's the image for Butcher's coin 141i

Another favorite voting scene is this one from the Roman republic:

L. Cassius Longinus, moneyer, AR Denarius minted at Rome, 63 BC.

Obv: Draped bust of Vesta veiled left, kylix behind, letter before

Rev: Male figure left, dropping inscribed tablet into a cista

Ref: Crawford 413/1; Syd. 935; Cassia 10

And last I will include this coi which shows the Gerousia of Hierapolis. A Gerousia was a council of elders.

Roman Provincial Coins, Phrygia, Hierapolis, pseudo-autonomous (2nd-3rd centuries). AE 6.87g 23mm,

Obv: ΓЄΡΟVСΙΑ, laureate, veiled and draped bust of Gerousia right.

Rev: ΙЄΡΑΠΟΛЄΙΤΩΝ, Apollo, holding bipennis, on horse trotting right.

Ref: RPC IV online 9789; SNG Copenhagen 434; BMC 79-81.

For more coins depicting voting in ancient Rome and discussion of voting and voting laws in the Roman republic see:


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