Denarius of Julia Domna, “MATER DEVM”

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198 or 201 CE
Mint of Rome
Hood Museum of Art: Gift of Arthur Fairbanks, Class of 1886; 27.1.29392

Obverse: female bust facing right, draped, pleated/waved hair [wig?] done up in flattened bun at back; in field, IVLIA (left) and AVGVSTA (right) clockwise (“Julia Augusta”); border of dots.

Reverse: seated Cybele/Magna Mater facing left, wearing mural crown, holding palm branch in outstretched right hand, left arm resting on drum [and holding scepter]; lions crouched on either side; in field, MATER (left) and DEVM (right) clockwise (“Mother of gods”); border of dots.

This text was prepared by Christopher Hauser, Class of 2014.


Julia Domna was the wife of Emperor Septimius Severus (r. 193-211 CE) and mother of the Emperor Caracalla. She came from a wealthy family who originated in the province of Roman Syria. She is represented in profile on the obverse of this silver coin. Additionally, the reverse of the coin depicts the goddess Cybele, seated on a throne and flanked by two small lions. The goddess Cybele originated in Eastern Anatolian and Phyrgian cults and though she was later incorporated into both the Greek and Roman Pantheon, she remained most popular and regularly worshiped in the Eastern Roman Empire, especially Asia Minor and Syria. Accompanying the figure on the reverse of the coin are the words MATER DEVM (“mother of the gods”) which refer to Cybele’s role as a mother goddess in Eastern cults.

This text was prepared by Mellon Special Project Curatorial Intern Amanda Manker.

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RIC Septimius Severus 564

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