As lovers of Carteian mintages, we recently became aware of a Carteia mintage not known to date. We do not know the specific data of its discovery,
although we think that it must have been a casual find in the field of Gibraltar (Cádiz). The coin (see image no. 1) has a weight of 6.46 gr, a diameter
of 22 mm and its mint axis is 1 h. With these data it can be affirmed that it is a semis that constitutes one more example in the extensive production of the
same that the city of Carteia coined.
|Image no. 1.- New Carteia semis - 6.46 gr / 22 mm / 1 h - Private collection
The appearance of such an exceptional reverse can predispose us to think that it could be a forgery,
however there is nothing to make us suspect it. Its style is fully consistent with the minting of this mint between
the end of the 1st century BC and early I AD, and its appearance shows us concretions and deposits of cuprite and malachite,
copper oxides and carbonates that are practically impossible to forge (see image no. 2).
The obverse presents the more than well-known turreted female head (Tyche,
goddess of the city) and to the right of the field appears the curved legend
CARTEIA in descending direction. All of this framed in a border of dots.
The reverse shows Apollo to the right, seated on what appears to be some rocks and dressed
with a tunic.. This figure holds in his left hand a lyre that rests between his legs. The right hand
is used as a support on the rocks. His hair appears to be long, semi-tied up with a bow, although the poor condition of the coin casts doubt on this.
In the field on the right, the letters D D (decreto decurionum) can be seen and, like the obverse, everything is framed in a border of dots.
An imagined recreation of this character can be seen in image no. 3.
|Image no. 3.- Seated Apollo holding a lyre (approximate interpretation of the reverse).
Drawing by Belén Gómez Ramírez "BEGORA".
The roman Colonia Libertinorum Carteia was one of the first Latin colonies outside of Italian territory, being founded
in 171 BC over an area of undoubted
Pheno-Punic ancestry, giving rise to the first generations of Hispano-Romans.
Colony located in the Cortijo del Rocadillo, between San Roque and Algeciras (Cádiz), which from the second half of the 2nd century BC issued
abundant Ae, always in the form of divisors and with Latin legends that often indicate the name of the monetary magistrate, but with a very
varied Roman-Punic-Hellenistic iconography, which makes this mint one of the most interesting in all of
According to the indications of Francisca Chaves Tristán in her work: "Las Monedas Hispano-Romanas de Carteia" (Barcelona, 1979), the representations
of the turreted head of female right appear in the numerary of this mint around the year
55 BC practically becoming the main motif of the obverse until the
closing of the mint around the year 15 AD.
However this motif, so common in ancient coinage, was not used in Hispania, with the exception of the mint that concerns us, possibly
due to the commercial interrelation with the North African mints that did represent it. (See image no. 4).
The style of the obverse of our coin (see image 5A) is very similar to that of some examples found in Chaves issue 29 (RPC I 122) dated between the end of the 1st century BC and early I AD
(images 5B, 5C and 5D). We can see that it corresponds to the most refined art in this type of bust.
The four obverses shown do not belong to the same die, although we would dare to say that they were the work of the same engraver.
The busts are practically identical andand the only differences can be found in the legend, with the coin in question perhaps having a slightly thicker line.
Although there could be doubts about the attribution of the figure on the reverse with Apollo, it should be noted
that the city of Carteia minted a few years earlier, around the year 30 BC, a series of semisses that show the head of
Apollo on the obverse and on the reverse a lyre, one of his main attributes. Other possible attributions could be
but they do not seem to fit in our case. (See image no. 6).
|Image no. 6.- Semis of Carteia - 8,05 gr - RPC I 115 - Private collection
The Carteia mint is very innovative, especially in its last period, not only because of the already mentioned bust with a turreted
female head (unique in Hispania), but also because of the emblematic coins of the fisherman and of Neptune (RPC I 120, 121 and 122 ).
This new figure of a seated Apollo would be one more example of how creative the minting of this mint is. .
The representation of Apollo seated (or standing) is not known in the coinage of the ancient Iberian Peninsula.
It was a common motif in the East in earlier centuries and would be minted again in later centuries (see examples at
ACSearch), but during
the 1st century BC and the 1st century AD Apollo is always depicted standing, except on this curious coin
of Carteia and on a rare eastern issue from Ionia (Colophon, RPC I 2523)
in which we can see Apollo seated.
We see three possible hypotheses:
That it was a short production of semisses, perhaps interrupted for some unknown reason.
That it is a numismatic proof discarded for mass production.
Make it some kind of commemorative coinage.
Both the possible commemorative coinage and the numismatic proof seem to us to be two very imaginative hypotheses,
too far-fetched. We understand, therefore, that the most plausible thing is that it is simply a coin of short production, as were the RPC I 111 and 117,
of which only a few copies are known.
The formula used on the D D reverse, together with the style of the Tyche bust (see images 5A, 5B, 5C and 5D), leaves -from our point
of view- no doubt about its dating between the end of the 1st century BC and early I AD.
Knowing that this is a single copy and in view of the oscillating weights of this mint, it would be very risky for us to attribute
a specific order to this issue together with the other two contemporary series, that is, together with the issues of Chaves 28 and 29 (RPC I 120, 121 and 122).
However, given the clear coincidence of obverses shown in images 5A, 5B, 5C and 5D, we understand that this issue could be cataloged just before or after RPC I 122
(Chaves 29). See images 7 and 8.
|Image no. 7.- Semis of Carteia - 8,23 gr - RPC I 120 - Private collection
|Image no. 8.- Semis of Carteia - 8,05 gr - RPC I 122 - Private collection
Assuming the coin as authentic, we find ourselves before an unpublished
semis of the Carteia mint, dated between
the end of the 1st century BC and early I AD. This coin could be cataloged just before or after RPC I 122 (Chaves 29).
The reverse of this coin would in turn be an
unprecedented type in the numismatics of Ancient Hispania. The numismatic
representations of Apollo in the ancient Iberian Peninsula are limited to simple
busts, we do not know of complete figures.
(*) Sergio Lendines is a student of the old coinage of Baetica and especially of the mint of Carteia.