Tetradrachm (Coin) Portraying Emperor Otho

A work made of silver.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

Image actions

  • A work made of silver.

Date:

AD 69, issued by the city of Antioch

Artist:

Roman, minted in Antioch, Syria

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. Whereas modern coinage is cast by pouring molten metal into molds, these coins were struck, one by one.

Portraits:Realism or Idealism
The primary purpose of portraiture was to create an accurate likeness of the subject. During the three-month rule of Otho (r. A.D. 69), he issued two coins. They show him at his real age, sixty-eight years old (not pictured here), and as a more vital younger man.

Currently Off View

Ancient and Byzantine Art

Artist

Ancient Roman

Title

Tetradrachm (Coin) Portraying Emperor Otho

Origin

Antioch

Date

69 AD

Medium

Silver

Inscriptions

Obverse: ΑYTOKPATωP MAPKOC OΘωN KAICAP CεBACTOC Reverse: εTOVC A (below)

Dimensions

Diam. 2.8 cm; 14.51 g

Credit Line

Gift of Martin A. Ryerson

Reference Number

1922.4929

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 .

Share

Sign up for our enewsletter to receive updates.

Learn more

Image actions

Share