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Provenance Rediscovered

This week a short post to share this coin - a rare and unusually well preserved tetradrachm from Gallienus' 15th and final regnal year.

Gallienus, reigned AD 253-268, the history of his reign that has reached us is colored by Constantine the Great who claimed descent and glorified the history of Claudius II Gothicus. This billion Tetradrachm is 21mm, 11.15 g and dated Regnal Year 15 (AD 267/268)

The legend AVT K Π ΛIK ΓAΛΛIHNOC CЄB abbreviates "Aut(okrator) Kai(sar) P(ublius) Lic(inius) Gallienus Ceb(astos)" or Emperor Caesar P Lic Gallienus Augustus - the emperor is depicted laureate and with cuirassed bust right.

The reverse shows Poseidon (or Neptune the Roman equivalent) standing left with his right foot on dolphin, holding palm frond and trident. The date, Regnal Year ЄI/L to lower left on the reverse and there is a palm frond to right of Poseidon.

Gallienus was killed by Cecropius in September 268 and Claudius II became emperor.

"Gallienus was at enmity with Aureolus, who had seized upon the position of prince, and was daily expecting the coming of this usurping ruler — a serious and, indeed, an unendurable thing. Being aware of this, Marcianus and Cecropius suddenly caused word to be sent to Gallienus that Aureolus was now approaching. He, therefore, mustered his soldiers and went forth as though to certain battle, and so was slain by the murderers sent for the purpose. It is reported, indeed, that Gallienus was pierced by the spear of Cecropius, the Dalmatian commander, some say near Milan..."
Historia Augusta, Two Gallieni, 14.6-9

Constantine claimed descent from Claudius II Gothicus. Two reasons for rejecting this as propaganda are:

1) contradictory and vague reference to the relationship between Constantine and Claudius II (grandson, grand-nephew, cousin, et.c.)

2) no evidence of this story during the time of Constantius


"Claudius, Quintillus, and Crispus were brothers, and Crispus had a daughter Claudia; of her and Eutropius, the noblest man of the Dardanian folk, was born Constantius Caesar.​"
-Historia Augusta, Life of Claudius, 13.1-2


"Diocletian promoted MAXIMIAN HERCULIUS from the dignity of Caesar to that "of emperor, and created Constantius and Maximian Galerius Caesars, of whom Constantius is said to have been the grand-nephew of Claudius by a daughter, and Maximian Galerius to have been born in Dacia not far from Sardica."
-Eutropius, 9.22.1 


"For he is that Claudius from whom Constantius, our most watchful Caesar, derives his descent."
-Historia Augusta, Two Gallieni, 14.1 

Constantine issued coins to commemorate his alleged ancestor.

Divus Claudius II Gothicus, died 270, AE half follis, (16mm, 2.21g, 12h), commemorative issue, struck under Constantine I, Rome, 317-318

Obv: DIVO CLAVDIO OPTIMO, laureate and veiled head of Claudius Gothicus to right Rev: MEMORIAE AETERNAE / R S Eagle standing facing with spread wings, his head turned to left

Ref: RIC V 294 (1/2 follis)

This tetradrachm comes from the last year (Regnal Year 15) of Gallienus' reign as emperor. I assumed that this coin was Dattari (Savio) 5259 after finding one example sold by CNG in 2019. A few minutes of meandering through the Gallienus section of the catalog turned up coin 10561 which is not only the same type as my coin, it is this coin. Emmett 3827.15 is classified as rarity R3 which seems about right given only 2 examples in acsearch.

Egypt, Alexandria, Gallienus, AD 253-268, Potin Tetradrachm, dated RY 15 (AD 267/268)

Obv: AVT K Π ΛIK ΓAΛΛIHNOC CЄB, laureate and cuirassed bust right

Rev: Poseidon standing left, right foot on dolphin, holding palm frond and trident; ЄI/L (date) to lower left, palm frond to right

Ref: Köln 2953; Dattari (Savio) 10561 (this coin); Emmett 3827.15 (R3)

For more coins and history of Gallienus see:


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2 commentaires

Alfred Kowsky
Alfred Kowsky
06 nov. 2022

Sulla, another interesting article 😊. I did spot one typo: the sentence beginning with the word "COnstantine"; change the O to lower case o.

06 nov. 2022
En réponse à

Thanks, Al, with all the diversity of ancient coins - there are many choices for what we find interesting Or entertaining. These coins of Roman Egypt are high in my favorites list. Gallienus and Valerian are emperors that I have found interesting from my first coin (a sestertius of Valerian).

Best wishes,


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