"When in Rome": Ancient Roman Coin Necklace (Gallienus/Sol)
*Note: These coins are identified to the best of my ability using any letters/symbols that are visibly available, and searching against a numismatic database. Please note that while I try incredibly hard to correctly identify them, I am just a hobbyist -- not an expert. Each coin is hand cleaned by me in a process that takes months of soaking, toothpicking, and toothbrushing. Colorization is natural patina from old age that is valued by coin collectors, and I have protected it with Renaissance wax. Because these coins are around 2000 years old and spend hundreds of years buried in the ground, there will be imperfections in surface, patina, and shape. My coins mostly come from the Balkans, and are discovered in buried hoards by farmers tilling soil.
Materials in Bezel/Bail/Chain: Sterling Silver
Chain and Closure: 16", dainty, lobster claw closure with small jump ring
Specific Coin Identification: RIC V Gallienus 249
Obverse: "GALLIENVS AVG"
Reverse: "ORIENS AVG"
Emperor in Power: Gallienus
Emperor Bust on Coin: Gallienus
Deity/Image on Back: Sol
Mint Date: 260-268 CE. This coin is ~1,755 years old.
Mint Location: Rome
Denomination: Antotinianus (Silver)
This is my all-time favorite coin. Firstly, because I somehow miraculously salvaged it from what seemed like concrete-encrusted grime. But oh, the months of soaking and scrubbing were worth it!
The reason THIS is my favorite coin is because it depicts Sol, the Roman sun god, nude and cracking a whip. Incredibly kinky!! And if that isn't salacious enough, this is basically a cult symbol. You see, Sol was the sun god, but he wasn't the king of the Pantheon. He wasn't even super important for many, many years UNTIL the Cult of Sol.
From 218-222 CE, the Roman Emperor from Syria, Elagabalus (AKA Antoninus), ruled. Elagabalus' namesake was the Syrian sun god. So, he was like, "Hey! Forget all these state-sanctioned Roman gods -- we are going to worship Elagabalus, AKA Sol, as the most powerful god! And me therefore as the most powerful emperor!" People were like, "no thanks," and he was wildly unpopular anyway and murdered by his own grandmother, but I digress.
Unlike Antoninus, Sol CONTINUED to be associated with great imperial power, and soon the cult caught on with other emperors and the public. 50 years later, it was SUCH a popular cult, that the emperor Aurelian ruled it an official religion in 274... On December 25th. It was a joyous occasion, and read into that date/commencing celebration what you will 🎅.
Anyway, Gallienus (whose coin this is), obviously utilized Sol's increasing association with power and put him on a coin! Gallienus can even be seen wearing a radiated crown, which was also a symbol of Sol!
So yeah. Gallienus was in a cult.
But also, the Cult of Sol CONTINUED to be so popular, that it rivaled early Christianity as an alternative religion. That is, until Constantine I decided to pick Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire (and the rest is history!).