Ancient coins of Antioch in Pisidia
under Gordian III, AD 238-244

Antioch in Pisidia was a Roman colony, now in Turkey (marked on the map from Wikipedia. This is not the most famous "Antioch" which was in Roman Syria). Founded by the Seleucids, it was declared "free" by the Romans in 188 BC after they defeated Antiochus III. Shortly after 25 BC under Augustus it became a Roman colony with the additional name "Caesarea" (after Augustus, who was CAESAR DIVI F). Because it was a colony, its coin legends are in Latin, not Greek. Both names "Caesarea" and "Antioch" are on its coins. Roman settlers included retired soldiers from two legions and an issue shows the founder plowing with two standards. Another issue of Gordian III had three standards (the first coin, below) and another type had six!

What's new?  2022, Dec. 9. Comments from Curtis Clay about the meaning of the first type and the meaning of "SR".  

Antioch in Pisidia is in mountainous country and somewhat off the beaten path. Nevertheless, it was visited by St. Paul on his first journey and when his message about Jesus was well-received--but not by Jews--he announced at Antioch in Pisidia that his mission would henceforth focus on gentiles. 

Coins of Antioch in Pisidia are common--especially so in the third century. Many are small or mid-sized, but, under Gordian III, many are large--3 or 4 mm larger than imperial sestertii. Until c. 203 under Septimius Severus the coinage of Antioch in Pisidia was relatively uncommon. Then the city introduced this large denomination of 33 or 34 mm when the imperial sesterius was 31 mm or smaller. We do not know its ancient name, but for lack of a better name Ann Johnston called it a (provincial) sestertius, and coin dealers sometimes call it that. "The extensive issues under Gordian III may be connected with an imperial benefaction or his eastern wars [i.e. We don't know why so many large coins were issued]. Sestertius-sized coins decline after Gordian and small coins of about 20 mm diameter become common. Those of Volusian, Valerian, and Gallienus are some of the most common issues of all of Asia Minor" [Butcher, p. 86]. 

Gordian III, 238-244
35-34 mm. 27.24 grams (This type averages 34 mm and 24.5 grams.
Sestertii of Gordian III are typically 31-29 mm and 21 grams or less.)
This coin is larger than imperial sestertii.
Bust right, laureate, cuirassed, and draped. 
CAES ANTIOCH COL  (Caesarea Antioch Colonia)
SR in exergue
Pietas standing left holding out patera over an altar, with incense box in her left hand, three standards on the left with the leftmost one surmounted by Victory.
  (For another interpretation of this reversse, see below.)

RPC 2726  (The main reference is Roman Provincial Coinage, abbreviated "RPC", volume 7.1, which is on-line here.)


Types of this large denomination. Most types have a reverse legend much like this one (CAES ANTIOCH COL) with a laureate bust right, although some have radiate busts. All have "SR" (possibly for "Senatus Romanus". For another interpretation, see below.) somewhere on the reverse as well as a legend around, usually similar to "CAES ANTIOCH COL," with the words sometimes more spelled out or in a different order.  Only two legends differ much from this (RPC 2714f including "VIRT AVG" and RPC 2740ff including "VICTORIA DOMINI"). They are noted in the table below.
   Roman Provincial Coinage on-line assigns 52 ID-numbers to large-denomination types from this city. Some appear similar to each other but have bust variants or different abbreviations of the reverse legend. There are 35 distinctly different large-denomination reverse designs from Antioch in Pisidia when reverse-legend variants are not counted as different and when different obverse busts are not counted as different types. All are listed in a table below, after several illustrations (For more details, see RPC on-line).
   There are other, smaller, denominations of c. 28 mm and c. 20 mm. The following photos are only of coins of the large denomination.

Founder plowing with oxen
35-34 mm. 26.82 grams.

RPC 2704

Rider spearing lion
34 mm. 26.27 grams.

RPC 2716


Mars advancing right with spear and shield
34-33 mm. 23.11 grams.

RPC 2723


Wolf and twins, fig tree behind
34 mm. 25.9 grams.

Small uncertain countermark at 11:00 on the obverse

The reverse legend, COL CAES ANTIOCH, is in a different order.

RPC 2732.

Two Victories hold shield on tree between them, two captives below
34-32 mm. 24.00 grams.

RPC 2738

Victory standing left
35 mm. 28.10 grams.

(An unusual legend)

SR retrograde

RPC 2740

List of designs, RPC numbers, and their frequencies. (Reverse-legend variants are not treated as different reverse designs. Most reverse designs are paired with laureate obverses. Radiate obverses are noted in the table.) See much more at RPC on-line
Antioch in Pisidia Reverse Types
     Design Obverse
or Radiate
(links are
to photos above)


Annona seated right holding stern of ship R 2693 14
Captive and Trophy.  Captive, wearing cap, seated left, on round shield, in attitude of mourning, facing trophy of arms to left L 2694 4
Cybele seated on throne, right, holding patera, resting arm on tympanum, between two lions L
Eagle standing left, head r., spreading wings L 2697 15
Mên and Fortuna.  Statue of Mên on base, standing r., wearing Phrygian cap, foot on bucranium, holding sceptre and Victory (standing r., on globe); behind his shoulders, crescent; to l., cock standing l., giving hand to statue of Fortuna of Antioch, on base, standing l., holding cornucopia; between them, altar  L 2698 24
Fortuna seated left, holding rudder and cornucopia; under her chair, wheel. R


Fortuna of Antioch (as Concordia) standing left, holding sceptre, between six standards (three on each side, the standard in the middle of each side is surmounted by an eagle)  L
7, 2
Founder of the colony, ploughing with oxen, right; in the background, two standards. R
40, 16
Genius (Exercitus) standing left, holding patera over altar and standard L 2707 12
Two standing figures clasping hands. Statue of Gordian III, laureate, on base (inscribed S), standing r., holding small statue of Fortuna standing l. , clasping hands with statue of Fortuna of Antioch, on base (inscribed R), standing l., holding sceptre; between them, altar. L
Gordian III riding on quadriga, advancing left, holding branch and sceptre surmounted by eagle, crowned by Victory standing behind him; in front of the quadriga, soldier standing r., holding spear, and two other soldiers in the background, holding spear L 2710 19
Gordian III, laureate, riding on quadriga, advancing right, holding sceptre surmounted by eagle  RPC 2711-12 L 2711-2 11, 11
Gordian III riding galloping horse left, soldier before and two behind. L 2713 11
Gordian III riding right, spearing foe, VIRT AVG COL ANTIOCH L 2714-2715 10, 9
Gordian III riding right spearing lion L 2716 47
Gordian III seated on platform with Liberalitas and official, citizen climbing steps L 2717 6
Gordian III, seated left, holding globe, crowned by large flying Victory L 2718 14
Trophy with two captives with soldier (Gordian III) to right touching its top L 2719 3
S R very large, with legend above and below and around L 2720-2721 20, 21
Priestly implements (jug [handle left] between lituus and knife on right, and simpulum and sprinkler on left) L 2722 14
Mars advancing right with spear and shield L 2723 24
Mên standing right L 2724 32
Pietas standing left holding out patera over an altar, with incense box in her left hand, three standards on the left, leftmost one surmounted by Victory L 2725-2726 16, 41
Salus standing left, feeding serpent raising from altar, and holding long caduceus L 2727 9
Securitas seated right L 2728 4
Wolf and twins, without (2729) or with (2730-2732) fig tree behind L 2729-2730
15, 59, 66, 18
Sol riding in quadriga left L 2733 15
Shrine with four columns, surmounted by Victory (standing left, holding wreath), enclosing Fortuna of Antioch standing left L 2734-2735 8, 10
Shrine with six columns, surmounted by Victory (standing left, holding wreath), enclosing Fortuna of Antioch standing left L 2736-2737 5, 1
Two victories hold shield L 2738 76
Victory advancing left, holding wreath. VICTORIA DOMINI ANTI COLON R
Victory right with wreath  VICTORIA DOMINI ANTI COLON L 2741 6
Victory right holding trophy  VICTORIA DOMINI ANTI COLONI L 2742 10
Victory seated right on cuirass, upholding shield on her knees L 2743 11
Victory standing right, placing inscribed shield on tree L 2744 9

Note: RPC frequencies (number of examples) are as of Oct. 20, 2022.
If a "design" in this table has two laureate RPC numbers, it may be that one obverse has a "head" and the other a "bust," which I have categorized as the same "design," or it may be that the reverse legends are abbreviated differently. 

Other Emperors. Coins from Antioch in Pisidia with imperial portraits begin with rare coins under Augustus and remain rare through the Flavians. None are issued under Nerva, Trajan, or Hadrian. Issues resume under Antoninus Pius and become common from Septimius Severus through Gallienus. Many coins of this large denomination were issued in the period from Septimius Severus through Gordian III. 

Septimius Severus, 193-211
34 mm. 

Victory standing right holding trophy
S R across field

BMC Greek 23 variety
SNG Copenhagen VI, Pisidia, Antioch 27
Von Aulock IV 8562
(The volume of RPC for the Severans is not available yet.)


Septimius Severus, 193-211
33 mm. 26.17 grams.

Mên standing right, crescent behind shoulders, holding long staff and Victory with trophy on globe and left foot on a tiny prow. A small rooster is on the ground to the left. The left arm resting on a column suggests this is an image of a statue.

SNG Copenhagen VI, Pisidia, Antioch 28.
Von Aulock III 4924


Severus Alexander.  Here is an example from Severus Alexander.

Severus Alexander, 222-235
33 mm. 21.31 grams.

Wolf-and-twins, fig tree to left and behind

SNG Copenhagen VI Pisidia, Antioch 55
Von Aulock III 4948v


Later and smaller coins. After Gordian III the largest denomination was discontinued, but some of the most common coins from all of Asia Minor are smaller coins issued at Antioch in Pisidia by emperors from Philip (244-249) through Gallienus (253-268). Unfortunately, the imperial names are often so badly engraved it can be hard to identify the emperor. Here is a case in point. [The image size is proportional.]

Volusian, 251-253
21 mm. 5.44 grams.
Two standards flanking vexillum with eagle
The obverse legend clearly reads
followed by letters that might be
which hardly gives one confidence it is Volusian!

Lindgren and Kovacs 1250
Sear Greek Imperial 4381
SNG Copenhagen VI Pisidia, Antioch 

Curtis Clay wrote me and NumisForums with additional information, which I quote here:

"Many of the Antioch reverse types were clearly closely copied from Rome mint sestertius reverse types of the Severan period.

"For example the woman sacrificing before three standards type (at the top) clearly copied from Julia Domna's MATRI CASTRORVM sestertius type of 196 AD, for example BMC pl. 47.3 [and here]. So the lady in that type, when it was created, was undoubtedly not "emperor" or "Pietas", but rather "Julia Domna".

"Maybe Antioch was repurposing the type to represent Tranquillina as Mother of the Camps, if indeed she also acquired that title; but I think it more likely that the mint at Antioch was merely copying the Severan type, as decorative and appropriate for a coin reverse, without intending to relate it to the history of Gordian's reign. I'll be interested to see from the introductory text in RPC when it is published whether the authors have recognized the many Severan sestertius reverse types that were copied on these Antioch bronzes; maybe not, since they call the lady with the standards "Pietas" rather than the correct "Julia Domna".

"I think a German scholar, I can't recall who, solved the mystery of the letters S R on Antioch's coins about twenty-five years ago: the letters stood for Socius Romanus or the grammatical equivalent of those two words, i.e., "Ally of the Romans", a title that Antioch deserved as an important military colony supplying the Roman army with lodging, recruits, and supplies for their many third-century campaigns against the Parthians and the Persians."

Conclusion. Provincial sestertii of Gordian III are impressively large, 3-4 mm larger than imperial sestertii. They were issued with many different reverse types. If you like large coins, Antioch in Pisidia issued provincial sestertii from Septimius Severus through Gordian III that fit the bill. 


Butcher, Kevin. Roman Provincial Coins: An Introduction to the Greek Imperials. 1988. 

Grant, Michael. Guide to the Ancient World: A Dictionary of Classical Place Names. 1986. 

Johnston, Ann. Greek Imperial Denominations, ca 200-275.  Table 49 is for Antioch in Pisidia.

Jones, A. H. M. The Cities of the Eastern Roman Provinces. Second Edition. 1971. 

Roman Provincial Coinage on line:

A web page on coins of Antioch in Pisidia:


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