Denarius (Coin) Portraying Emperor Trajan

A work made of silver.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of silver.


October AD 103/October AD 111, probably 106/07, issued by Trajan


Roman, minted in Rome

About this artwork

The purpose of the first portrait coins was to identify the ruler. The front side became a mirror of the sovereign’s self-image. The back was often used to communicate the ruler’s accomplishments or intentions. The profile portrait was used because it suited the very shallow depth and limited surface of the coin. The tiny images were carved by engravers into bronze dies, one for the front and another for the back. The coins were then struck, one by one, in a process similar to how modern coins are created today.

Portraits Celebrate
Coins were an excellent way for leaders to advertise their victories whether in battle or at the Olympic Games. Emperor Trajan’s (r. A.D. 98–117) conquest of the kingdom of Dacia is symbolized by the defeated figure crouching before Trajan’s victory trophy.

Currently Off View

Ancient and Byzantine Art


Ancient Roman


Denarius (Coin) Portraying Emperor Trajan


Roman Empire


103 AD–111 AD




Diam. 1.8 cm; 3.26 g

Credit Line

Gift of Mrs. William Nelson Pelouze

Reference Number


Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email .


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