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Denarius (Coin) Portraying King Ancus Marcius

A work made of silver.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of silver.

Date:

56 BCE, issued by L. Marcius Philippus

Artist:

Roman; minted in Rome

About this artwork

Portraits of important people appear on local currency all around the world. The same was true in ancient Rome, which began producing its first coinage in the late 4th century BC. Early coins depicted the heads of gods and goddesses on the front side, often in profile, while the back depicted animals, natural resources, symbols, and references to historical events. It was not until 44 BC that the portrait of a living person—Julius Caesar—appeared on coins. Thereafter, profile portraits of rulers or other members of the imperial family became the standard subject on coins throughout the Roman Empire.

In the mid-50s BC, it became common to portray ancestors that reinforced an important family lineage. The politician Lucius Marcius Philippus, who commissioned this coin, traced his lineage to the legendary King Ancus Marcius, who was believed to have lived in the late seventh century BCE.

The front (obverse) of this coin depicts the head of King Ancus Marcius diademed and facing right; behind him is a lituus (curved augural staff). The back (reverse) of the coin depicts an equestrian statue facing right on an aqueduct between arches of which are the letters: AQVA MAR. Under horse, a branch tipped.

On View

Arts of the Ancient Mediterranean and Byzantium, Gallery 153

Culture

Ancient Roman

Title

Denarius (Coin) Portraying King Ancus Marcius

Origin

Roman Empire

Date

Struck 56 BCE

Medium

Silver

Inscriptions

Obverse: ANCVS Reverse: PHILIPP[VS]; AQVA MAR (in arches of aqueduct)

Dimensions

Diam. 1.8 cm; 4.19 g

Credit Line

Gift of Martin A. Ryerson

Reference Number

1922.4848

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 . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.

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