Uranius Antoninus – 252-254 AD

Uranius Antoninus

253-254 AD

Usurper of Syria

L. Julius Aurelius Sulpicius Uranius Antoninus was a usurper who rose to power in Syria. Uranius was known as the priest-king. He successfully defended Emesa against the Persian invasion led by Shapur I in 253 AD. Although the Persians succeeded in sacking Antioch, they withdrew from the region. Uranius, proclaimed himself emperor during the turbulent year of 253 AD, which marked the fall of Aemilian and the rise of power for Valerian I.

When Valerian I came to power, he was forced tp pay attention to the East. He arrived in Antioch around 254 AD and spent much of his remaining time in the region. Uranius’ rebellion was easily supressed by Valerian I for which he received the title “Restorer of the Human Race.”

The precise events that led to Uranius’ death has escaped history. It is known by his coinage that he coined money at both Emesa and Antioch suggesting that perhaps he had taken Antioch following the withdrawal of the Persian forces. His coinage also attempts to drawn a connection with Elagabalus who also struck aureii displaying the Stone of Emesa, the black stone believed to have been thrown to earth by the gods during Elagabalus’ reign. It is highly doubtful that there was a blood connection between the two men. The only common bond was their shared office of high priest in the city of Emesa.

Monetary System

Silver Tetradrachm of Antioch, Syria

Mints: Antioch, Emesa

Note: Tetradrachms were issued in Emesa and Antioch. The silver content between the two issues is as different as night and day. We can easily see by even the two photographs presented here, that the Antioch issues are of high silver content in excess of 60%. The Emesa issues appear to be mostly bronze with a very low silver content of less than 30%. The differences between these two issues is a reflection of diverse the trends of inflation were in the Eastern provinces.

Obverse Legends: Emesa



AU Aureus (5.7 grams)
AR Tetradrachm (8.13 grams)
AE Tetradrachm – head left (12.14 grams)

Monetary History of the World
©Martin A. Armstrong