BrianRxm Coin Stories 10/15
The Sacred Black Stone of Elagabal
Roman Coin celebrates an Ancient Syrian Religion
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The Coin:
 
Rome Antoninus Sacred Stone Coin
1. Antoninus Pius Provincial AE - Sacred Stone of Emesa Syria
 
Bronze, 23mm, 8.71gm
 
Obverse:
Laureate bust right
AVT KAI TI AIΛ ANTΩNEINOC CEB EV
(Augustus Caesar Antoninus Augustus Pius)
 
Reverse:
Eagle standing right on sacred stone of Elagabal, B in right field
EMICHNWN (Emesa)
 
Struck: AD 138-161 Emesa Syria
The Story:
 
This Roman provincial coin was issued at Emesa, Syria during the reign of the Roman Emperor
Antoninus Pius (AD 138-161), when it became a major city.
 
The reverse depicts the Black Stone of Emesa, which was worshiped in Syria as the god Elagabal.
 
The stone is believed to be a meteorite.
Such stones were very important in the Syrian-Phoenician religion.
 
Elagabal had always been worshipped with much pomp and devotion, accompanied by
music and dancing.
 
Elagabal had no statue, but was venerated as a black stone with a round base and a pointed top.
On coins, the stone is usually shown with an eagle spreading its wings over the object
in a protective way.
 
The cult of Elagabal was later introduced into Rome by the emperor
Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus (AD 218-222) who was later known as Elagabalus, after his stone.
 
In Rome, the god Elagabal was also known as Sol Invictus (the Invincible Sun).
 
Sol Invictus later became a major god of Rome in the 4th century, and his birthday of December 25
is still celebrated in some places.
A similar coin was issued under Trajan earlier:
 
Rome Trajan Sacred Stone Coin
2. Trajan Provincial AE - Sacred Stone of Seleucia Syria
 
Bronze, 25mm, 13.86gm
 
Obverse:
Laureate head right
AYTOKP KAIC NEP TPAIANO CAPICT CEB GEPM DAK
(Emperor Caesar NEP Trajan CAPICT Augustus Germanicus Dacius)
 
Reverse:
Sacred stone of Zeus Kaisos
Draped with ribbon in shrine with four pillars supporting roof, eagle on top
CELEYKEWN PEIEPIAC SEYC KACIOC
 
Struck: AD 103-104
The Emperor Elagabalus issued this coin celebrating his role as priest:
 
Rome Elagabalus Denarius Syrian
3. Elagabalus (AD 218-222) silver Denarius Syrian Priest
 
Silver, 21mm, 3.76gm
 
Obverse:
Horned, laureate, and draped bust right
IMP ANTONINVS PIVS AVG
 
Reverse:
Elagabalus in Syrian priest dress standing left sacrificing out of patera over lighted altar,
holding branch or club, star left
PM TRP IIII COS III PP
 
Struck: AD 221 Rome
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