Documenting History with Coins

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QUESTION: Mr. Armstrong, Your writings on Rome and the parallels are astounding because, as you say, human nature never changes. I took my family to Rome for a vacation thanks to you. We went into the Roman Forum, and that was impressive. Are the monuments there in the forum documented by the coinage?

Thank you for what you do


ANSWER: Of yes. As I have said before, the reverse side of the coinage was cleverly used as an ancient form of newspaper, sometimes including propaganda. The coins have often identified not only portraits of emperors but also monuments. The Arch of Severus stands at one end of the Forum, commemorated on his coinage, and at the opposite end of the Forum overlooking the Colosseum is the famous Arch of Titus, commemorating the conquest of Judaea. Interestingly, that arch does not appear on any coin, perhaps because several victory coins were celebrating that same victory.

There is the cremation pyre, which Julius Caesar was laid directly across from the Rostrum.

This is a Roman Sestertius issued by Titus announcing the opening of the Colosseum and a later issue by his brother with the legend Divus Titus commemorating that he built it after his death.

Here is a Roman Sestertius announcing the new port at Ostia to import grain from Egypt to feed Rome. Some people collect just monuments. Others collect only the Julio/Claudian Dynasty. Still, perhaps the most popular is a set of portraits of the emperors.

This is a reference work just on the coinage displaying the various monuments of the Roman Empire.