Bronze coin of Tarsus, reign of emperor Elagabalus

Roman, AD 218-222
From Tarsus, modern Turkey

Imperial bronze coin from the Greek East, showing the crown of the imperial priest

This bronze coin of the eastern city of Tarsus comes from the period of the rule of the Roman emperor Elagabalus (AD 218-222). As with many coins of this region and period it carries on the obverse (front) a portrait of the reigning emperor, and on the reverse a scene with local significance. The reverse of this coin bears a depiction of the elaborate crown of the high-priest of the imperial cult in the city. The city had been granted the title of neokoros ('temple-warden'). This indicates the official award of an imperial cult, first under the emperor Hadrian (ruled AD 117-138), and for a second time under Commodus (ruled AD 180-192).

The crown worn by the high-priest of the imperial cult was probably made of gold, and was also remarkable for its decoration: representations of the heads of the reigning emperor, his family and predecessors. Eleven such heads are visible on this crown.

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More information


A.M. Burnett, Coinage in the Roman world (London, Seaby, 1987)

K. Butcher, Roman provincial coins: an int (London, Seaby, 1988)

S.R.F. Price, Rituals and power: the Roman i (Cambridge, 1984)


Weight: 12.910 g
Diameter: 32.000 mm

Museum number

CM 1901-7-4-25



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