Roman Foundation Coins and Solar Eclipses


Emperor Hostilian is on the above coin which was one of the last minted in Aelia Capitolina(Roman Jerusalem) in 251 AD. Note the solar eclipse a year before. Roman provincial coinage came to an abrupt halt about this time. Many scholars have attributed this economic collapse to the "Crisis of the Third Century." Cyprian Plague, civil war, Germanic and Persian invasions almost destroyed the Roman world. Rome started massive walls to protect the city under Aurelian.

I find it ironic that the last coin of Aelia Capitolina displays a Roman foundation scene on the reverse. A team of oxen rededicate an existing city or "found" a new city in the name of the emperor. A city on the verge of a crisis usually would not put such a positive image on it's last coin. Whatever decimated Aelia Capitolina was sudden and unexpected for the Romans. Cyprian Plague?

It would be interesting to correlate Roman foundation coins to solar eclipse events. Of the several Roman foundation myths, the story of Romulus founding Rome on the Palatine Hill around a solar eclipse resonates through history and may still be reflected in their coins.

Note the above coin from Pisidia Antioch (circa 69-79 AD). Titus is on the obverse and a Roman foundation scene on the reverse. A solar crescent is above and most likely refers to the brief solar eclipse from 71 AD. Remember the Apostle Paul was expelled by the Jewish population in Pisidia Antioch. It is not too far to guess the Jewish population of this city capitulated and honored Titus after the destruction of the Second Temple. Rededicating Pisidia Antioch in honor of Titus appears to be the message. It would be a wise and necessary move to keep the city from being destroyed by Rome.

Photos Zurqieh

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