Architectural coin types: reflections of Roman society
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] Architectural representations on Roman coins are among the most intensely studied images on ancient coins. Scholars frequently use them as evidence to reconstruct a monument's appearance. I seek to move beyond this approach and ask new questions. The first representations of monuments appeared on Republican coins. Although moneyers depicted monuments that related to their ancestry or politics, the depictions also arose at a time when Rome's population was growing and adding more large-scale public monuments. Architectural representations on coins became more common at the same time that second style wall painting, also known for architectural representation, developed. I assert that urban identity is partly responsible for the emergence of architectural imagery on coins and art in this period. Under the emperors, coins began to show monuments that were personally financed by the emperor or that celebrated his military victories. By the late Julio-Claudian period, more depictions of buildings were placed on bronze coins, including projects that benefited the lives of common Romans. A case study on the find spots of architectural coin types further indicates that the Roman state was targeting certain segments of society with images relevant to their station. In the late Roman Empire, architectural images became more abstracted and referred less to extant monuments. This was the result of the decentralization of political authority from Rome and the establishment of imperial mints across the Empire to strike a uniform coinage. Architecture on the local coinage of the Greek East was inspired by the imperial coinage, but the provinces were also highly innovative. After the closure of the provincial mints and the establishment of imperial mints across the Empire, local traditions of architectural representation were preserved on the late imperial coinage.
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