ASIA MINOR. Uncertain. 2nd-3rd centuries. Tessera (Lead, 19 mm, 3.46 g), Poublios Aurelios Xanthippos, philosebastos (?). ΠΟ • AV ΞANΘIΠΠOC ΦIΛO[CЄB] Snail to right; on top of its shell, mouse standing on his hind legs to right, playing the aulos. Rev. Blank. Apparently unpublished. A remarkable tessera with an extraordinary design. Minor surface roughness. Good very fine.
From a collection of lead tesserae from Asia Minor.
The remarkable design on this tessera must have been inspired by Roman gem engraving. Many different aulos players appear on gems, predominantly mythological creatures of the "wild" like centaurs and satyrs, but also small animals like mice and crickets. Snails and shells also feature on many ancient gems, but a combination of the two, as on our tessera, appears to be hitherto unknown. The reading of the official's name must remain tentative, although considering the pellet after the ligate letters ΠΟ, it seems very likely that his first names were Publius and Aurelius. The name is probably followed by "philosebastos", "emperor-loving", an epithet which also appears on another Ephesian tessera type (Vossen collection 64) and in epigraphic record.