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About This Artwork
Antoninianus (Coin) Depicting a Hippopotamus, A.D. 248, issued by Emperor Philip the Arab
Diam. 2.3 cm; 4.13 g
OB: OTACIL SEVERA AVG
REV: SAECVLARES AVGG
(In exergue: IIII)
Gift of Martin A. Ryerson, 1922.4898
This coin was issued to commemorate the Roman Millennium. The lavish birthday celebration featured one thousand gladiators who fought to the death and thousands of exotic animals like this hippopotamus, native to Egypt. Supplying the Romans with African animals for the games was a flourishing business.
Alexander, Karen and Mary Greuel. 1990. Private Taste in Ancient Rome: Selections from Chicago Collections, n.pag.(n.51).
Alexander, Karen B. 2012. "From Plaster to Stone: Ancient Art at the Art Institute of Chicago." in Recasting the Past: Collecting and Presenting Antiquities at the Art Institute of Chicago, by Karen Manchester, p.29. Art Institute of Chicago/Yale University Press.