Bronze coin of Smyrna, reign of emperor Caracalla

Roman, AD 211-217
From Smyrna, modern Turkey

Imperial bronze coin from the Greek East, showing three of the city's temples

This bronze coin of Smyrna comes from the period of the rule of the Roman emperor Caracalla (AD 211-217). As with many coins of this region and period it carries on the obverse (on the front) a portrait of the reigning emperor, and on the reverse a scene of some local significance. The reverse of this coin bears a depiction of three of the city's temples: those dedicated to Roma, Tiberius and Hadrian (other specimens have the initial letters of three deities within the pediments). Within each temple can be seen a statue of the appropriate deity.

The legend on the reverse of the coin proclaims the city as three times neokoros ('temple-warden'), an echo of three temples in the design and indicating that the city had been granted three imperial cults. This was a source of local civic pride, and the insistence on it in coin design may, in part, have been spurred by rivalry with nearby Ephesos, also thrice neocorate at this period.

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More information


M.J. Price and B.L. Trell, Coins and their cities: archit (London, 1977)

A.M. Burnett, Coinage in the Roman world (London, Seaby, 1987)

K. Butcher, Roman provincial coins: an int (London, Seaby, 1988)

S.R.F. Price, Rituals and power: the Roman i (Cambridge, 1984)


Weight: 28.700 g

Museum number

CM BMC Smyrna 415



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