Aurelius Polion Letter · Tebtunis Papyri Silver Coin Niue 2018

Aurelius Polion Letter · Tebtunis Papyri Silver Coin Niue 2018

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1800 year old letter home from Egyptian soldier is the fascinating  subject for the numismatic collectors.

This amazing piece of  history was discovered in 1899 in the ancient temple complex of Tebtunis, the Aurelius Polion papyrus was one of a large number of documents, many quite fragmentary, found by the Egyptologist Bernard Pyne Grenfell and the papyrist Arthur Surridge Hunt during one of their many expeditions. A treasure trove of early texts, some of extreme importance, it is documents like this letter that put a human face on the discovery.



This papyri was found 1899 in the temple komplex of Tebtunis and is now in the Bancroft Library at the University of Califor-nia, Berkley. The entire message was composed mainly in Greek when Egypt was under Roman rule. Aurelius was a soldier nof legio II Adiutrix, stationed in Pannonia Inferor, today Hungary.

Adressed to his mother, a bread seller and his siblings, the heartrending words of an Egyptian soldier named Aurelius Polion who served in the Roman legion as a volunteer.

“I pray that you are in good health night and day, and I always make obeisance before all the gods on your behalf. I do not cease writing to you, but you do not have me in mind. But I do my part writing to you always and do not cease bearing you (in mind) and having you in my heart. But you never wrote to me concerning your health, how you are doing. I am worried about you because although you received letters from me often, you never wrote back to me so that I may know how you (are).”

It is clear how much the soldier longs for his family, he is sad and complains that he has not received any letters back.


The coin is a half-ounce fine silver rectangle with what initially looks like a colour application on it – one reproducing the original papyrus. It is in fact a laser etched wooden inlay. This will give a level of texture that colour couldn’t hope to achieve and is one of the few examples of wood on a modern commemorative coin – others being Art Mints Stradivarius issue and the Mint of Polands Trojan Horse. The rest of the coin is antique-finished and the whole thing looks to have huge appeal to the many people fascinated by this period in history.

Issued for Niue with the suitably standard effigy-laden obverse, this is an interesting subject for a coin and it looks well implemented to suit. Just 500 will be struck. No mention on packaging, but we’d think one of the latex floating frames would be an ideal way to display the coin as part of a larger collection of antiquities. An appealing coin for the straight up coin collector as well, given how numismatics has always been so tightly interwoven with history at its most basic level.


Country Niue
Denomination 2 Dollars
Year 2018
Quality Patinated - laser wooden inlay
Material Silver  999/1000
Weight (g) 1/2 oz
Diameter 28.50 x 40.00 mm
Mintage pcs 500
Certificate (COA) Yes
Presentation case (box) Yes

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