Monday, 19 March 2018

Israel hiker discovers aureus with image of Augustus

Last year an Israeli woman hiking in the Galilee discovered an extremely rare gold coin - only the second such coin ever found.

The coin, dating to the year 107 CE, bears the image of the Roman Emperor Augustus, and was unearthed in northern Israel.
On the reverse are symbols of the Roman legions next to the name of the ruler Trajan, and on the obverse – instead of an image of the emperor Trajan, as was usually the case, there is the portrait of the emperor “Augustus Deified”. The coin is part of a series of coins minted by Trajan as a tribute to the emperors that preceded him.

The only other example known is in the British Museum.

Trajan's Column with a statue of St. Peter installed on top in Rome.
Historical sources of the period note that some Roman soldiers were paid a high salary of three gold coins, the equivalent of 75 silver coins, each payday. Due to their high monetary value soldiers were unable to purchase goods in the market with gold coins, as the merchants could not provide change for them. Bronze and silver coins of Emperor Trajan are common, but his gold coins are extremely rare.

Trajan was Roman emperor from 98 AD until his death in 117 AD. Officially declared by the Senate optimus princeps ("the best ruler"), Trajan is remembered as a successful soldier-emperor who presided over the greatest military expansion in Roman history, leading the empire to attain its maximum territorial extent by the time of his death.

Trajan's Uniformed Army, frieze on Trajan's Column