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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; $4680.00 (€3978.00)
 


Augustus, 16 January 27 B.C. - 19 August 14 A.D.

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The cistophorus was first struck by the Pergamene Kingdom was a tetradrachm (four-drachms coin) struck on a reduced Asian standard of about 3 grams per drachm. Its name was derived from the cista, a Dionysian cult snake basket that frequently appeared on the obverse. After the Pergamene Kingdom was bequeathed to Rome in 133 B.C., the Romans continued to strike cistophori for the Asia province, with a value equal to three denarii. The portrait of Augustus and later emperors replaced the cista on the obverse.
SH85434. Silver cistophoric tetradrachm, Sutherland Group VI, RPC I 2215, RIC I 479, RSC I 33, BnF I 922, BMCRE I 694, BMCRR East 262, SRCV I 1587, VF, full circles strike on a broad flan, light uneven toning, light encrustations, small closed edge crack, weight 11.660 g, maximum diameter 27.2 mm, die axis 0o, Ephesus mint, c. 24 - 20 B.C.; obverse IMP CAE-SAR (counterclockwise below), bare head right, linear border; reverse garlanded and filleted altar of Diana (artemis, ornamented on the front with two hinds standing confronted, AVGVSTVS above; $1080.00 (€918.00)
 


Augustus, 16 January 27 B.C. - 19 August 14 A.D., Emerita, Hispania Lusitania

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Mérida, Spain was founded by P. Carisius in 25 B.C., as Emerita Augusta, the name referring to the discharged soldiers who populated the city, by order of Augustus to protect a pass and a bridge over the Guadiana river. The city became an important city in the Roman Empire and the capital of Lusitania province. Mérida preserves more important ancient Roman monuments than any other city in Spain (including a triumphal arch of the age of Trajan).
SH84707. Silver denarius, RIC I 9b, RSC I 398, BMCRE I 291, BMCRR Spain 128, BnF I 1039, Hunter I 124, SRCV I 1627 var. (head right), gVF, full circle centering on a broad flan, mint luster, weak strike areas, die wear, small edge cracks, weight 3.775 g, maximum diameter 21.8 mm, die axis 90o, Emerita Augusta (Merida, Spain) mint, P. Carisius, c. 25 - 23 B.C.; obverse IMP CAESAR AVGVST, bare head left; reverse P CARISIVS LEG PRO PR (P. Carisius Legatus [Augusti] pro Praetore), bird's-eye view of town with walls around, EMERITA inscribed above gateway in front with three battlements over two arched entrances; from the Marcelo Leal Collection; $870.00 (€739.50)
 


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; $240.00 (€204.00)
 


Probus, Summer 276 - September 282 A.D.

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In 278, Probus defeated the Alamanni, expelled the Franks from Gaul, reorganized the Roman defenses on the Rhine and resettled the Germanic tribes in the devastated provinces. He adopted the titles Gothicus Maximus and Germanicus Maximus.
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; $180.00 (€153.00)
 


Coins and their cities: Architecture on the ancient coins of Greece, Rome, and Palestine

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"Ancient coins illustrate more than a thousand different buildings most of which are now lost without a trace. We tend to forget that a line of foundations stones is all that remains of human effort of planning and labor which goes into the erection of an architectural monument; and it is therefore salutary to begin this study by comparing extracts from letters sent by a provincial governor to the emperor at Rome, dealing with the construction of just buildings on coins."
BK11792. Coins and their cities: Architecture on the ancient coins of Greece, Rome, and Palestine by Martin Price & Bluma Trell, 1977 edition, 298 pages, illustrations throughout, hardback, very good condition, only one copy available; $150.00 (€127.50)
 


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); $115.00 (€97.75)
 


Probus, Summer 276 - September 282 A.D.

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To the ancient Romans, Rome was "Roma Aeterna" (The Eternal City) and "Caput Mundi" (Capital of the World). The empire is history but Rome is still today, the eternal city. Rome's influence on Western Civilization can hardly be overestimated; perhaps a greater influence than any other city on earth, making important contributions to politics, literature, culture, the arts, architecture, music, religion, education, fashion, cinema and cuisine.
RA79930. Silvered antoninianus, Hunter IV 42 (also 2nd officina); Pink VI-1, p. 57/5; Cohen VI 531; RIC V-2 185; SRCV III -, Choice aEF, perfect centering, much silvering, some bumps and marks, weight 3.879 g, maximum diameter 22.2 mm, die axis 0o, 2nd officina, Rome mint, emission 5, 280 A.D.; obverse IMP PROBVS AVG, radiate bust left in consular robe, eagle-tipped scepter in right; reverse ROMAE AETER (eternal Rome), statue of Roma seated facing inside a hexastyle temple, Victory in right hand, long vertical scepter in left hand, R wreath B in exergue; $110.00 (€93.50)
 


Crusaders, Frankish Greece, Principality of Achaea Philip of Taranto, 1307 - 1313

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Philip of Taranto was the son of Charles II and the overlord of Philip of Savoy. Charles II deposed Philip of Savoy in June 1306, and in 1307 Philip of Taranto took the title of prince. Based on epigraphy, Metcalf identifies this type as possibly struck at Corinth. Malloy Crusaders notes the obverse legend ending variation (but for type 24, not 25), and notes, "D P, for 'Depotes,' presumably rather than D R, for 'Depotes Romanie.'"
ME85305. Billon denier tournois, Malloy Crusaders 25 var. (obv. leg. ends D•R•), Metcalf Crusades PT1, 979 var. (same), VF, toned, edge cracks, weight 0.838 g, maximum diameter 20.7 mm, die axis 180o, Clarentza (or Corinth?) mint, 1307 - 1313; obverse + •Ph'S P•ACH•TAR•D•P• (Philip, Prince of Achaea and Taranto, Despot [of Romania]), cross pattée; reverse + DE CLARENCIA (fleur-de-lis on each side of cross), castle tournois, pellet on each side of castle, fleur-de-lis below; ex C. Subak (Chicago, Sep 1975); scarcer variety; $110.00 (€93.50)
 


Trebonianus Gallus, June or July 251 - July or August 253 A.D.

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Juno was the patron deity of Trebonianus Gallus. The epithet Martialis literally means "of or belonging to Mars" or "warlike," but the depictions of Juno Martialis on the coins are not warlike. The epithet may refer to Juno as the mother of Mars. Or perhaps she is Juno of March - her festival was on 7 March. Perhaps the title refers to her temple in the Campus Martius, the old "Field of Mars" down by the Tiber. She is sometimes equated with Juno Perusina, as Perugia was where Trebonianus Gallus came from, and as such is sometimes called Juno Martialis Perusina by modern scholars.
SH66386. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC IV 110a corr. (peacock), Banti 14 corr. (same), Cohen V 50, SRCV III 9670, Hunter - (p. cv), VF, nice patina, attractive style, weight 13.008 g, maximum diameter 28.8 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 251 - 253 A.D.; obverse IMP CAES C VIBIVS TREBONIANVS GALLVS AVG, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse IVNONI MARTIALIS, Shrine of Juno Martialis: domed, distyle rotunda with Corinthian columns, garlands hanging below dome; statue of Juno seated facing within holding two stalks of grain in extended right; ex Triskeles Auction, lot 164, auction 2 (25 Apr 2013); $105.00 (€89.25)
 




  



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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 Saturday, April 21, 2018.
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Architecture