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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Themes & Provenance ▸ Types ▸ ArchitectureView Options:  |  |  |   

Architecture on Ancient Coins

Nero, 13 October 54 - 9 June 68 A.D.

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The name Ostia was derived from the Latin "ostium" - river mouth. At the mouth of the River Tiber, Ostia was Rome's seaport. Construction of the port facilities began under Claudius and was likely completed just before this sestertius was struck in 64 A.D. Trajan and Hadrian expanded the facilities. The port was abandoned due to silting and now lies 3 km from the sea. The site is noted for the excellent preservation of its ancient buildings, magnificent frescoes and impressive mosaics.
SH86120. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC I 178, BMCRE I 131, Cohen I 37, Mac Dowall WCN 120, BnF I -, VF, well centered, nice portrait, near black patina, scratches on obverse lower right field, some porosity and tiny pitting, weight 26.031 g, maximum diameter 34.0 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, c. 64 A.D.; obverse NERO CLAVD CAESAR AVG GER P M TR P IMP P P, laureate bust right, wearing aegis; reverse AVGVSTI above, S - C divided by POR OST below, bird's-eye view Ostia harbor: pharos lighthouse with Neptune statue on top at far side center; crescent-shaped pier with building and figure sacrificing at far end, crescent-shaped row of breakwaters or slips on right with figure seated on rock at far end, 7 ships within port; river god Tiber reclining left holding rudder and dolphin below; ex Gorny & Mosch auction 195 (7 Mar 2011), lot 405; an attractive example of a highly desired type!; $3800.00 (€3230.00)
 


Mark Antony, Triumvir and Imperator, 44 - 30 B.C.

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In October 42 B.C. the Republican army was defeated by the legions Antony and Octavian at Philippi. Cassius and Brutus committed suicide. Brutus' body was brought to Antonius' camp, where he cast his purple paludamentum over his dead body and ordered an honorable funeral for his erstwhile comrade. The Republican cause was crushed; Rome rested in the hands of the Second Triumvirate.
SH87854. Silver denarius, Crawford 496/1, Sydenham 1168, BMCRR II Gaul 60, RSC I 12, Sear CRI 128, SRCV I 1467, VF, nice portrait, dark toning, obverse slightly off center, light marks and scratches, some porosity, tiny edge splits, weight 3.270 g, maximum diameter 16.6 mm, die axis 0o, military mint with Antony in Greece, 42 B.C.; obverse M ANTONI IMP, bare head right; reverse III - VIR - R P C (counterclockwise from upper left), distyle temple, radiate facing head of Sol on medallion within; ex Savoca Coins, auction silver 25, lot 608; rare; $950.00 (€807.50)
 


France, Philip IV the Fair, 1285 - 1314 A.D.

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King Philip IV, deeply in debt to the Knights Templar, took advantage of rumors about the Order's secret initiation ceremony. On Friday, October 13, 1307, he had the Order's members in France arrested (the origin of the Friday the 13th superstition). Pope Clement, under threat from Philip, instructed all Christian monarchs in Europe to arrest all Templars and seize their assets. Many Templars were tortured into giving false confessions and burned at the stake. Grand Master Jacques de Molay, burned alive in Paris in 1314, called out from the flames, "Dieu sait qui a tort et a pëché. Il va bientot arriver malheur à ceux qui nous ont condamnés à mort" ("God knows who is wrong and has sinned. Soon a calamity will occur to those who have condemned us to death"). Pope Clement died only a month later, and King Philip died in a hunting accident before the end of the year.
ME87718. Silver Gros Tournois, Van Hengel 432.02; Duplessy 213, Ciani 201, Roberts 2461, Lafaurie I 217, VF, well centered and stuck, part of edge a little ragged, weight 3.966 g, maximum diameter 25.8 mm, die axis 270o, 1285 - 1290; obverse outer legend: + BNDICTV: SIT: NOmE: DNI: nRI: DEI: IhV: XPI (the name of our Lord Jesus Christ be blessed, N's as H, m open, triple pellet stops), inner legend: + PHILIPPVS' REX (King Philip, no stop); cross pattée; reverse TVRONVS CIVIS (City of Tours, R with tail, round O, N reversed, pellet at top of second V, no stop), Châtel tournois topped with a cross, border of twelve lis within arches; $395.00 (€335.75)
 


Septimius Severus, 9 April 193 - 4 February 211 A.D., Augusta Traiana, Thrace

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Augusta Traiana (Stara Zagora, Bulgaria today) was founded by Trajan, c. 106 A.D. During 2nd - 3rd century A.D., it was the second largest city in Roman Thrace, after Philippopolis, and was fortified by strong walls. The city struck bronze coins from the time of Marcus Aurelius to Gallienus.
RP83509. Brass AE 31, Schönert-Geiss Augusta Traiana 163, Varbanov II 1009 (R7), SNG Cop -, BMC Thrace -, F, well centered, centration dimples, weight 15.997 g, maximum diameter 30.8 mm, die axis 0o, Augusta Traiana (Stara Zagora, Bulgaria) mint, 9 Apr 193 - 4 Feb 211 A.D.; obverse AV K Λ CEΠTI - CEVHPOC Π, laureate head right; reverse AVΓOVCT-HC TRAIAN-HC, tetrastyle temple on raised platform, flanked on each side by a tree and a stag leaping outward, Artemis standing right within the temple, holding bow in left hand and drawing arrow from quiver on shoulder with right hand; big 31 mm bronze!; very rare; $195.00 (€165.75)
 


Probus, Summer 276 - September 282 A.D.

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The reverse depicts the double temple of Venus and Roma, designed by Hadrian, the largest and most splendid temple in Rome, finished by Antoninus Pius. Damaged by fire in 307, the temple was restored "in magnificent manner" by Maxentius. When Constantius visited Rome fifty years later, the "Temple of the City" was one of the sights he most admired. In 625, Pope Honorius received a special dispensation from Heraclius to strip the gilded bronze roof tiles for the repair of St. Peter's. During a twelve-day visit to Rome in 663, Constans II stripped it of its remaining bronze ornaments. It was damaged by an earthquake in 847. Later a church was built in the ruins.
RA76944. Silvered antoninianus, Hunter IV 32 (also 3rd officina); RIC V-2 185; Cohen VI 530; Pink VI-1, p. 56-57/4; SRCV III -, Choice EF, near full silvering, superb portrait, light marks, weight 4.097 g, maximum diameter 24.1 mm, die axis 180o, 3rd officina, Rome mint, emission 4, 279 A.D.; obverse IMP PROBVS AVG, radiate and cuirassed bust right; reverse ROMAE AETER (eternal Rome), statue of Roma seated facing inside a hexastyle temple, head left, Victory in right, long scepter in left hand, R pellet in crescent with horns up Γ in exergue; $140.00 (€119.00)
 


Constantius II as Caesar, 324-337 A.D.

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In 328 Arelatum was renamed Constantia in honor of Constantine II. After Constantine II was killed in 340, the name reverted to Arelate, only to be changed again in 354 to Constantia by Constantius II. It retained that name, although the mintmark 'AR' appeared on some of its coins even in the fifth century.
RL86836. Billon follis, RIC VII Arles 323, LRBC I 333, SRCV V 17665, Cohen VIII 314, Hunter V -, gVF, brown patina, weight 3.213 g, maximum diameter 19.9 mm, die axis 180o, 4th officina, Arelatum (Arles, France) mint, as caesar, 328 A.D.; obverse FL IVL CONSTANTIVS NOB C, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust left; reverse VIRTVS CAESS (the valor of the two princes), campgate with four turrets, star above, gates open, each door with two panels, each panel ornamented with two dots, S - F flanking at sides, QCONST in exergue; Vauctions sale 250 (5 Aug 2010), lot 167; ex Zachary "Beast" Beasley Collection of Camp Gates; $120.00 (€102.00)
 


Septimius Severus, 9 April 193 - 4 February 211 A.D., Perinthus, Thrace

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A neocorate was a rank or dignity granted by the Roman Senate and the Emperor to certain cities which had built temples to the Emperor or had established cults of members of the Imperial family. The city itself was referred to as neokoros (pl. neokoroi). A temple dedicated to the emperor was also called neocorate. Starting in the 2nd century CE, the title appeared on many coins. There were approximately 37 cities holding the neocorate, concentrated in the province of Asia, but also in neighboring provinces. Severus rewarded Perinthus with the title Neokoros for the first time for their support against Pescennius Niger. The city received a second neocorate under Elagabalus.
RP83931. Bronze tetrassarion, CNT_2626, Schönert Perinthos 466, Varbanov III 193 (R5), Moushmov 4524, SNG Cop 741 var. (draped and cuirassed), BMC Thrace -, F, nice portrait, green patina, scratches, small edge crack, central dimples, weight 15.690 g, maximum diameter 31.4 mm, die axis 225o, Heraclea Perinthos (Marmara Ereglisi, Turkey) mint, 196 - 211 A.D.; obverse AY KΛ CEΠ CEYHPOC ΠE, laureate head right; reverse facade of a octastyle temple on double crepidoma with eight Corinthian columns, shield with umbo on pediment and acroteria on roof, ΠE−PIN/ΘI−ΩN flanking across field in two divided lines, NEΩKOPΩC in exergue; $115.00 (€97.75)
 


Antoninus Pius, August 138 - 7 March 161 A.D., Zeugma, Commagene, Syria

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Zeugma was founded by Seleucus I Nicator who almost certainly named the city Seleucia after himself. In 64 B.C. the city was conquered by Rome and renamed Zeugma, meaning "bridge of boats." On the Silk Road connecting Antioch to China, Zeugma had a pontoon bridge across the Euphrates, which was the long time border with the Persian Empire. The Legio IV Scythica was camped in Zeugma. The legion and the trade station brought great wealth to Zeugma until, in 256, Zeugma was fully destroyed by the Sassanid king, Shapur I. An earthquake then buried the city beneath rubble. The city never regained its earlier prosperity and, after Arab raids in the 5th and 6th centuries, it was abandoned again.
RY86830. Bronze AE 22, RPC Online IV 8532 (52 spec.); SNG Hunterian 2628 (same c/m); BMC Galatia p. 125, 8 (same); SNG Cop 28; countermark: Howgego 453 (32 pcs.), aF, c/m VF, tight flan, earthen deposits, corrosion, edge cracks , weight 10.192 g, maximum diameter 21.5 mm, die axis 0o, Zeugma mint, 138 - 161 A.D.; obverse AYTO KAI TIT AIΛ A∆P ANTWNEINOC CEB EY (or similar), laureate head right, countermark: 5-pointed star in same shaped 5 mm punch; reverse ZEYΓMTEWN, tetrastyle temple, a rectangular walled and colonnaded peribolos before the temple containing sacred grove, crescent with horns up above, obscure officina letter upper left; ex Beast Coins; $110.00 (€93.50)
 


Crusaders, Athens, Frankish Greece, Guy II de La Roche, 1287 - 1308

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Guy II de la Roche was the Duke of Athens from 1287, the last duke of his family. He succeeded as a minor on the death of his father, William I, at a time when the duchy of Athens had exceeded the Principality of Achaea in wealth, power, and importance. Guy was originally under the tutorship and regency of his mother, Helena Angelina Komnene, who was forced to make submission to Isabella of Villehardouin. In 1299, Guy was engaged to Matilda, daughter of Isabella and and her husband, Florent of Hainaut. Charles objected, as his permission had not been sought, but Pope Boniface VIII intervened on the young couple's behalf. In 1307, Guy was made bailli of Achaea by its new prince, Philip I of Taranto. He governed well, but for barely a year. He died, 5 October 1308, at the age of twenty-eight, but was respected and renowned for his chivalry and manners, typical of the Frankish courts kept in Greece.
ME85309. Billon denier tournois, Malloy Crusaders 85, Metcalf Crusades Variety 1c and pl. 42, 1067; Schlumberger XXXIX 14, VF, well centered, toned, areas of weak legend, tiny edge cracks, weight 0.783 g, maximum diameter 18.2 mm, die axis 45o, Athens mint, majority, 1294 - 1308 A.D.; obverse + GVI DVX ATENES (trefoils flanking cross, trefoil stops), cross pattée; reverse + ThEBANI.CIVIS (trefoils flanking cross), castle tournois, double pellet at beginning and end of legend; ex C. Subak (Chicago, Sep 1975); $100.00 (€85.00)
 


Probus, Summer 276 - September 282 A.D.

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The reverse depicts the double temple of Venus and Roma, designed by Hadrian, the largest and most splendid temple in Rome, finished by Antoninus Pius sometime between 140 and 145. Damaged by fire in 307, the temple was restored "in magnificent manner" by Maxentius (Aurelius Victor, De Caesaribus, XL). When Constantius visited Rome fifty years later, the so-called Temple of the City was one of the sights that he most admired (Ammianus, History, XVI.10.14). In 625, Pope Honorius received a special dispensation from Heraclius to strip the gilded bronze roof tiles for the repair of St. Peter's. During a twelve-day visit to Rome in 663, Constans II stripped it of its remaining bronze ornaments. It was damaged by an earthquake in 847. Later a church was built in the ruins.
RA87678. Billon antoninianus, RIC V-2 737; Cohen VI 556; Pink VI-1, p. 50; SRCV III -, Choice VF, dark brown patina, light corrosion, weight 3.167 g, maximum diameter 25.1 mm, die axis 180o, 4th officina, Siscia (Sisak, Croatia) mint, 277 A.D.; obverse IMP C M AVR PROBVS P F AVG, radiate bust left in consular robe, eagle-tipped scepter in right hand; reverse ROMAE AETERNAE (to eternal Rome), hexastyle temple, statue of Roma seated facing inside, Victory in her right hand, long scepter vertical in her left hand, shield leaning against seat on left, three steps, wreath on pediment, XXIQ in exergue; $100.00 (€85.00)
 




  



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REFERENCES

Price, M.J. & B. Trell. Coins and Their Cities: Architecture on the Ancient Coins of Greece, Rome, and Palestine. (London, 1977).

Catalog current as of Tuesday, December 18, 2018.
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Architecture