BCE 7, Caesar Augustus
Coins like this were used throughout Roman history. From the monarchy to the republic and finally the empire, coins would depict Greco/Roman deities and emperors. Pressed into the bronze is an image of Caesar Augustus, the first Roman emperor, who reigned from 17 B.C. to 14 A.D. Anointed emperors would have their own images stamped onto new coins, or over old ones.
The coins are made by hammering or pressing a ‘dye’ onto the ‘blank’. The dyes would be sent along Rome’s extensive road network to towns across the Empire. There, craftsmen-minters would have the tools needed to mint coin blanks from metal that was mined in their region. On the dyes, propaganda, religious, and political symbols were depicted. A trend began during the reign of the imperial predecessor, Julius Caesar, to begin minting the faces of rulers onto the coins. As Roman influence and conquest expanded, what better psychological tool than money to let the newly conquered know who was in charge? Roman coins found their way to Britain, Spain, Carthage, Egypt, and the Middle East.
Like modern currency, Roman coins often featured abbreviations. This 7 B.C.E. coin has the head of Augustus on the front, and on the back has “SC,” meaning “Senatus Consulto” or “by Decree of the Senate.” The name of the moneyer, Ssalvus Otho, is printed along the edge. ‘Moneyer’ was a high level position, of which four existed at any given time during Rome’s imperial era.