Image: laureate and cuirassed bust of Hadrian, with paludamentum, seen from rear, looking to right
Inscription: ΔΙ (or ΙΔ) ΑΥΤ Κ ΤΡΑ ΑΔΡΙΑΝΟС СΕ
Image: draped bust of Artemis-Tychè, looking to right, quiver on left shoulder, bow in right hand
Inscription: ΑΡΤΕΜΙС ΤΥΧΗ ΓΕΡΑСωΝ
RPC III/1, no. 4084, p. 536.
This large denomination of Gerasa, minted in 129-130 CE, under the reign of Hadrian, depicts on the obverse the head of Hadrian, and on the reverse the main goddess of the city, Artemis-Tychē. The inscription in Greek on the obverse refers to Hadrian as imperator, Caesar, Traianus, Hadrianus, Augustus. Besides, the inscription on the obverse records that the coin was minted in the fourteenth year of Hadrian’s reign, in 129-130 CE. The inscription on the reverse refers to the local goddess as Artemis-Tychē of the people of Gerasa (Meshorer, City-Coins of Eretz-Israel and the Decapolis, no. 252, p. 119). The city of Gerasa was probably a native settlement. According to late and not very reliable sources, Nicomachus, a native of the city, wrote that Alexander the Great founded the city, possibly in 331 BCE. The name Gerasa would have stemmed from the fact that the city was founded by Macedonian war veterans, or gerontes. Yet, it is probable that the name Gerasa is a Hellenization of the earlier Semitic name of the location. The Hellenistic settlement was conquered by the Hasmonean ruler Alexander Janneus. The city is not mentioned in the list of cities which were freed and refounded, first by Pompey in 63 BCE (Josephus, Jewish Antiquities XIV.74-79), and then by Gabinius in 57-56 BCE (Josephus, Jewish Antiquities XIV.86-91). During the Jewish War, some of the Jews living in the city sided with the rebels. Yet, the city remained loyal to Rome (Josephus, War II.458). In fact, the first issues minted in the city are dated to the reign of Nero. This possibly indicates that the city was rewarded for its standing at the beginning of the Jewish War, when Nero was still in power. In 106 CE, the city, as the rest of the Decapolis, became part of the new province of Arabia Petraea. The newly created Via Traiana Nova, the Roman highway erected by Trajan, which connected Bostra, the capital of the province to the port of Ayla, today Aqaba, on the Red Sea, passed through Gerasa.
This issue was minted in 129-130 CE, to celebrate Hadrian’s visit, or adventus, to the area. The emperor first visited the province of Judea, wherein the colony of Aelia Capitolina was founded, and then he proceeded to visit the newly acquired province of Arabia. Till quite recently, it was not clear if Hadrian visited Judea in 129-130 or in 130-131 CE. However, an inscription recently analyzed by Hannah Cotton, clearly demonstrates that the emperor visited Judea during the consulate of Quintus Fabius Catullinus and M. Flavius Aper in 130 CE (see Arch of Hadrian at Gerasa (129-130 CE); The inscription of the arch of Hadrian in Gerasa). Hadrian stopped in the city of Gerasa.
The reverse of the coin depicts the main goddess of the city, Artemis-Tychē. On this issue the goddess is depicted dressed in a chitōn, or short sleeveless tunic, while looking to right. She holds the quiver on her left shoulder and the bow in her right hand. Other issues, however, depict the goddess wearing the turreted crown, while also sporting the bow and the quiver, the two attributes of Artemis, the goddess of hunting. The goddess possessed the most important temple of the city. The huge temenos, which was completed in 150 CE, under the reign of Antoninus Pius, was surrounded by a huge portico, with four towers on the corners, and a huge gateway, toppled by a Syrian arch. The temple itself, located in the middle of the temenos, was characterized by an exastyle façade and stood on a podium. This coin mirrors the attitude of most of the cities in the Greek East: while on the one hand, they accepted Roman hegemony, symbolized by the head of the emperor, depicted on the obverse, on the other hand, prominence was given to the idea of autonomy, symbolized by Artemis-Tychē, who was also the main goddess of the city.