Festival of Isis, 4th century AD. AE4 or BI nummus (16mm, ...Click the image to load the highest resolution version.
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DescriptionFestival of Isis, 4th century AD. AE4 or BI nummus (16mm, 1.72 gm, 6h). NGC XF 4/5 - 3/5. Rome, under Constantius II as Augustus, AD 337-361. D N CONSTAN-TIVS P F AVG, pearl-diademed, draped and cuirassed bust of Constantius II right, seen from front / VOTA-PVBLICA, Isis in ship left, holding the sail and looking backwards, waves below. Vagi 3444.
From the Morris Collection.
The Festival of Isis was a major celebration in Rome in the 3rd and 4th centuries, heralding the arrival of the ship of Isis (navigium Isidis) from Alexandria on 5 March. Besides Isis and Horus, other members of the Egyptian pantheon appear - Serapis, Anubis, Harpocrates, Sothis and Nilus. Such coins or tokens with imperial busts were first struck by Diocletian at Rome to mark the arrival of the ship, and the tradition continued through the 4th century; the latest imperial bust to appear is that of Valentinian II. Alföldi proposes that in the Middle Ages the festival associated with the Isis ship (also known as carrus navalis) became the car naval or carnival. All Festival of Isis coinage is scarce to rare and is often found pierced as the coins/medallions were worn as amulets during the celebration. The portrait types, as opposed to the deity type obverses, are the most difficult to find.
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