Gold aureus showing Trajan's Column

Roman, early 2nd century AD

The original appearance of Rome’s famous monument

The monumental column of the emperor Trajan (AD 98-117) is one of the landmarks of the city of Rome. It was built around AD 106-113 to celebrate the victory of Trajan in two wars of conquest against the Dacians, a people who lived in the area of what is now Romania. Trajan was so successful that a whole new Roman province was created, a feat not seen since the invasion of Britain by the emperor Claudius sixty years earlier.

The Column stands in the ruins of Trajan's Forum in the centre of Rome. It reaches a height of 30 metres, and records in a continuous strip of sculptures the great battles needed to conquer Dacia. (A full-scale cast of the Column can be seen at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London). This coin shows the original appearance of the Column, with a statue of the emperor on the top which is now lost; it is replaced by an image of St Peter.

Trajan was one the greatest of the Roman emperors and he also waged successful wars against the Germans and the Parthians, and was rewarded with the title Optimus, 'the Best'. His memory was greatly honoured, and he was given the unusual right of burial within the city limits of Rome. His ashes were placed in the base of his great column, held in an urn made of gold. After his death, everyone who passed by would be able to see the deeds of Trajan depicted on his column and remember him. By placing the image on a coin which could circulate throughout the whole Roman world he was able to carry that message to all who had been his subjects.

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Gold aureus showing Trajan's Column

Gold aureus of Trajan showing the Column


More information


R.A.G. Carson, Principal coins of the Roman-1, vol. 2 (London, The British Museum Press, 1980)

F. Lepper, Trajans Column (Gloucester, Alan Sutton, 1988)

C. Scarre, Chronicle of the Roman emperor (London, Thames & Hudson, 1997)


Diameter: 20.000 mm
Weight: 7.210 g

Museum number

CM BMC (Trajan) 449



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