Stars in the Sea

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Israeli archaeologists discovered a nearly 2,000-year-old Roman coin depicting a zodiac symbol off the coast of northern Israel, Smithsonian Magazine reported.

The novel artifact featured an image of Luna, the Roman goddess of the moon, and an image of the zodiac sign Cancer. The other side depicted Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius, who reigned the vast empire between 138 to 161 CE.

The Israeli Antiquities Authority explained that the novel artifact was minted in Egypt during Pius’ reign and was in “an exceptional state of preservation.” Its underwater location suggests that the coin was lost during a shipwreck.

The IAA noted that the relic was part of a series of 13 coins, 12 showing the signs of the zodiac and the last with a complete zodiac wheel, according to the Times of Israel.

Scholars said the depiction of the zodiac highlighted ancient Rome’s fascination with astrology. It was practiced by all classes of Roman society even though some superstitious emperors were not fond of it.

Instead, these rules viewed astrology with suspicion and hostility, fearing that astrological predictions could be used to undermine their authority.

But aside from its symbolism, the coin also showed that it was minted in the eighth year of Pius’ reign, whose rule is remembered as one of the most peaceful eras of the Roman empire.

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