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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; $4000.00 (€3400.00)
 


Sextus Pompey, Imperator and Prefect of the Fleet, Executed 35 B.C.

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In Greek mythology, Scylla was a monster that lived on one side of Strait of Messina between Italy and Sicily, opposite her counterpart Charybdis. The two sides of the strait were within an arrow's range of each other - so close that sailors attempting to avoid Charybdis would pass dangerously close to Scylla and vice versa. Scylla made her first appearance in Homer's Odyssey, where Odysseus and his crew encounter her and Charybdis on their travels. Later myth gave her an origin story as a beautiful nymph who gets turned into a monster. The idiom "between Scylla and Charybdis" has come to mean being forced to choose between two similarly dangerous situations.
SH87414. Silver denarius, RSC I Pompeia 3a (same ligatures), Crawford 511/4d, Sydenham 1348, BMCRR Sicily 20, Sear CRI 335b, SRCV I 1393, gVF, beautifully toned, edge cracks, legends not fully struck, weight 3.566 g, maximum diameter 19.8 mm, die axis 225o, uncertain Sicilian mint, 40 - 39 B.C.; obverse MAG•PIVS•IMP•ITER, pharos (lighthouse) of Messana, topped with stature of Neptune standing right holding trident and rudder, his left foot on a galley ram; quinquereme (war galley) sailing left in foreground below adorned with aquila on prow and scepter at the stern; reverse PRAEF ORAE•MARIT•ET•CLAS• S•C• (AEs and MAR ligate), the sea monster Skylla, her upper body a nude human female torso, lower body of two fish tails and three dog foreparts, attacking to left with a rudder wielded as a club in both hands raised overhead; ex Nomos Obolos 10, lot 349; rare; $2100.00 (€1785.00)
 


Byzantine Empire, John V Palaeologus, 15 June 1341 - 16 February 1391 A.D.

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John V was made emperor three days short of his ninth birthday. Anna of Savoy was appointed regent for her son. After Anna was defeated in a civil war, John V was made junior emperor to his former advisor John VI Kantakouzenos and he married John VI's daughter. John VI ignored his young colleague and in time even replaced him with his own son Matthew. John V Palaeologus obtained Genoese help, overthrew his rivals, took sole rule and banished John Kantakouzenos to a monastery. John V converted to Catholicism in an attempt to obtain aid from the West against the Turks, but even this failed. Without allies, the Byzantine state was forced to become a vassal of the Ottoman Empire, permitted to exist only by the grace of the mighty Sultan.
SH87665. Bronze stamenon, Lianta 887; Bendall PCPC 317; B-D LPC p. 238, 8 (Andronicus III); SBCV 2525 (assarion); DOC V -; Sommer -; Grierson -, VF, dark patina, slightly off center, weight 1.695 g, maximum diameter 21.2 mm, die axis 180o, Thessalonica mint, 1365 - 1369 A.D.; obverse Saint Demetrius standing facing, nimbate, wearing tunic, breastplate, and sagion, inverted spear vertical in right hand, resting left hand on grounded shield at side, flanked on each side by a long cross with three bars, anepigraphic; reverse emperor standing facing, wearing crown with pendilia, stemma, divitision, collar-piece and loros, staff topped with a cross in circle in right hand, Manus Dei (the hand of God) above left, model of city (wall with gate and towers) in left hand, star with eight rays lower right; very rare; $400.00 (€340.00)
 


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; $160.00 (€136.00)
 


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; $125.00 (€106.25)
 


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)
 


Antoninus Pius, August 138 - 7 March 161 A.D., Commemorative Struck by Marcus Aurelius

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In 162, Lucius Verus began war with the Parthians after Vologases IV invaded Syria and Armenia. The Romans would be victorious but the returning army would bring back a pandemic known as the Antonine Plague. The plague would significantly depopulate the entire Roman Empire.
RS87323. Silver denarius, RIC III MA441, RSC II 357, BMCRE IV MA71, Szaivert MIR 47, SRCV II 5196, VF, excellent portrait, well centered, radiating flow lines, bumps, cleaning marks, weight 3.141 g, maximum diameter 17.5 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 162 A.D.; obverse DIVVS ANTONINVS, bare head right; reverse DIVO PIO, rectangular altar with closed double panelled doors; ex Roma Numismatics e-sale 46, part of lot 1033; $120.00 (€102.00)
 


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)
 




  



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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 Wednesday, November 14, 2018.
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Architecture