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Coins of Vespasian from Ephesus

Updated: 4 days ago

The subjects of today's post are two Roman Imperial denarius with amazing Eastern portraits of Vespasian. The first with a reverse female portrait with turreted crown who looks like she could be Vespasian's sister. This coin is also interesting as it dates from the transition of power that took place in AD 69. These period of transition were often challenging times for the Roman empire and portraits on coins often get confused between rulers. The portrait on this coin without the legend is not so obviously Vespasian.

Vespasian (AD 69-79), AR denarius, Ephesus, July-December 69, die axis 6 o'clock

Obv: IMP CAES VESPAS AVG, laureate head of Vespasian right

Rev: PACI ORB — TERR AVG, turreted and draped female bust right, no mintmark below

Size: 15-18mm, 2.86g

Ref: RIC 1397 (or maybe 1407 if there is a symbol there)

Note: Seeing 2 die matches (this double die match and this obverse die match) I am fairly confident that there is "no mint mark" on this coin.


In RIC 2 these are described as provincial coins rather than military mint because the coins continue to be minted into AD 70. Mucianus, governor of Syria in AD 67, played a role in promoting Vespasian to emperor. Mucianus from a noble family was initially not a fan of Vespasian, a tough commander with little family pedigree, however he came to respect him. Both were supporters of Otho and joined forces in AD 69 as Vitellius took control of Rome. This coin was minted in Ephesus and the mint possibly started up as Mucianus moved westward against Vitellius and Vespasian took control of Egypt and set up headquarters in Alexandria.


The second coin is from a couple of years later and shows Vespasians sons on the reverse as he uses the coin to set expectations of Flavian dynasty.

Vespasian, 69-79 AD, AR denarius, Ephesus mint, 71 AD

Obv: IMP CAESAR VESPAS AVG COS III TR P P P< Laureate head right

Rev: LIBERI IMP AVG VESPAS, Titus and Domitian, each veiled, togate and holding a patera, standing facing heads left, EPE in exergue

Ref: RIC II 1430 (Group 6)

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