Mesopotamia, Carrhae. Caracalla. 198-217 AD

Mesopotamia, Carrhae. Caracalla. 198-217 AD


AR Tetradrachm, 14.14g (25mm, 12h). AVT K M A ANTΩNЄINOC C-ЄB, laureate head right / ΔHMAPX ЄΞ VΠA TO Δ, eagle standing facing on bull's head flanked by pellets, head right, with wings spread, holding wreath in beak.

Pedigree: From the Michel Prieur Collection. Ex Robert Gait Collection, 597; RARCOA (15 March 1985), lot 136.

References: Prieur 820; Bellinger 158

Grade: Minor flan defect at 10h on obverse and some light encrustation on diadem. Beautiful strike and lustrous surfaces. EF (re1087)

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Caracalla was a member of the Severan dynasty, the son of the founder and Roman emperor Septimius Severus. Caracalla is likely most remembered for his hatred and disdain of his younger brother Geta. So strong was this dislike that he had Geta killed by centurions in the arms of his mother Julia Domna. He then proceeded to literally wipe Geta’s existence from the historical record. He enacted a damnatio memoriae in which Geta’s image was destroyed ranging from statues to coins. 

Caracalla didn’t live much longer than his brother dying at the young at of 29. His biggest contribution to the Roman people was the Antonine Constitution, better known as the Caracalla Edict of 212 which allowed Roman citizenship to nearly all freemen in the Roman Empire. Other notable achievements were the construction of the famous baths of Caracalla, as well as the introduction of a new denomination, the antoninianus, which was approximately a double denarius in weight.

Caracalla was killed in 217 BC by a disgruntled soldier and was replaced by the short lived Macrinus. 

There is not much known about the city of Carrhae. One distinct characteristic of the coins is a bull in the exergue with a pellet to each side. This likely refers to the god Bel or his messenger Malakbel. The pellets to each side of the bull suggests the morning and evening stars.