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.
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.
- Currently Off View
- Arts of the Ancient Mediterranean and Byzantium
- Ancient Roman
- Denarius (Coin) Portraying Emperor Trajan
- Roman Empire
- 103 CE–111 CE
- Obverse: IMP TRAIANO AVG GER DAC PM TRP COS V PP Reverse: SPQR OPTIMO PRINCIPI
- Diam. 1.8 cm; 3.26 g
- Gift of Mrs. William Nelson Pelouze