Skip to Content

Open today 10–11 a.m. members | 11 a.m.–6 p.m. public. Learn more.

Denarius (Coin) Portraying Emperor Trajan

A work made of silver.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

Image actions

  • A work made of silver.

Date:

October 103-October 111, probably 106-107, issued by Trajan

Artist:

Roman, minted in Rome

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. The coins were then struck, one by one, in a process similar to how modern coins are created today.

Portraits Celebrate
Coins were an excellent way for leaders to advertise their victories whether in battle or at the Olympic Games. Emperor Trajan’s (r. A.D. 98–117) conquest of the kingdom of Dacia is symbolized by the defeated figure crouching before Trajan’s victory trophy.

Status

Currently Off View

Department

Arts of the Ancient Mediterranean and Byzantium

Culture

Ancient Roman

Title

Denarius (Coin) Portraying Emperor Trajan

Origin

Roman Empire

Date

103 CE–111 CE

Medium

Silver

Inscriptions

Obverse: IMP TRAIANO AVG GER DAC PM TRP COS V PP Reverse: SPQR OPTIMO PRINCIPI

Dimensions

Diam. 1.8 cm; 3.26 g

Credit Line

Gift of Mrs. William Nelson Pelouze

Reference Number

1923.1275

IIIF Manifest  The International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) represents a set of open standards that enables rich access to digital media from libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions around the world.

Learn more.

https://api.artic.edu/api/v1/artworks/10016/manifest.json

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.

Share

Sign up for our enewsletter to receive updates.

Learn more

Image actions

Share