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Home > Members' Coin Collection Galleries > David Atherton > Imperial Coinage of Domitian

Domitian RIC-816
AR Denarius, 2.73g
Rome mint, 95-96 AD
Obv: DOMITIANVS AVG GERM; Head of Domitian, bare, bearded, r.
Rev: Temple, eight columns, seated figure in centre; IMP CAESAR on architrave
RIC 816 (R2). BMC 243. RSC 175. BNC -.
Ex Private Collection.

Domitian struck a rare undated issue of denarii depicting five different temples. Based on portrait style and the fact that Domitian's moneyers were experimenting with new reverse designs after 94, the issue has been dated to either 95 or 96. Four of the five temples have been identified - Serapis, Cybele, Minerva, and Capitoline Jupiter. The fifth type is an octastyle temple, as seen on the coin above, and its identification remains a mystery. Mattingly conjectured it could be the Temple of Divus Vespasian, P.V. Hill and D. Vagi thought it possibly the Temple of Jupiter Victor, R.H. Darwell-Smith speculated it is the Temple of Jupiter Custos, and M. Tameanko believed it to be the Temple of Divus Augustus. Tameanko makes the strongest case. Earlier renditions of the temple on the coinage under Caligula show it with a hexastyle facade. Domitian restored or rebuilt the temple after the fire of 80. His architect Rabirius may have completely overhauled the building in a more contemporary style producing an octastyle temple. Almost a hundred years later Antoninus Pius restored the temple again and struck a series of coins commemorating the event. His coins indeed depict an octastyle temple very much like the one seen on this denarius and may be proof that under Domitian the temple was rebuilt as an octastyle structure. However, until more evidence comes to light, the identification remains uncertain. Like Domitian's earlier Saecular Games series, the temple denarii were likely struck as a special issue, perhaps reflecting Domitian's new interest as builder. The remarkable bare headed portrait further enhances the issue as something special.

Needless to say it is a fantastically rare piece! Additionally, the eight column type may be the scarcest of the temple group, considering I have located only two other examples in trade over the last 15 years. The other two coins (OldRomanCoins 2002, HJB 145, lot 265) are obverse die matches with mine. Oddly, some specimens (BM 234 for example) lack IMP CAESAR on the architrave.

Worn, with some bumps and scrapes, but well-centred and in good style with plenty of eye appeal.
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Jay GT4  [Oct 10, 2017 at 02:28 AM]
An exceptional acquisition! Congrats!
Randygeki(h2)  [Oct 10, 2017 at 06:33 AM]
Awesome coin
okidoki  [Oct 10, 2017 at 09:58 AM]
nice temple
Simon  [Oct 10, 2017 at 12:09 PM]
Love the Temple. Nice find.
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