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Gold aureus of Aurelian


Weight: 5.770 gm
Diameter: 20.000 mm

Blacas Collection

CM 1964-12-3-140

Room 70: Roman Empire

    Gold aureus of Aurelian

    Roman, AD 270-75
    Minted at Rome, Italy

    Coin of Aurelian, restorer of the Roman Empire

    When Aurelian became emperor in AD 270, the Roman world was in crisis. The frontiers of the empire were constantly under threat of barbarian invasion. The western provinces of Germany, Gaul (France), Britain and the Iberian peninsula had become autonomous under their own emperors, while the Asian provinces were falling under the control of Queen Zenobia of Palmyra.

    For a brief five-year period, Aurelian returned stability and unity to the Roman empire. He brought both western and eastern provinces back into the fold, built powerful walls around the city of Rome which still stand to this day, and re-established the reputation of the Roman coinage.

    This beautiful gold piece is a perfect symbol of Aurelian's rejuvenated empire - made of pure gold and of full weight. It is unlike the debased and light gold coins made by his beleaguered predecessor, Gallienus (AD 253-68). Aurelian was a man of charisma and talent, but his luck ran out in AD 275 when, like so many other emperors in the turbulent third century AD, he fell to the assassin's knife.

    A. Burnett, M. Amandry and P.P. Ripollès, Roman provincial coinage, vol. 1 (London, The British Museum Press, 1992)

    A. Watson, Aurelian and the third century (London, Routledge, 1999)

    M. Todd, The walls of Rome (London, Elek, 1978)


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    On display: Room 70: Roman Empire

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