Object: Coin

Coin (As or aes)
Nîmes (Nemausus), France
10-14 CE
Materials: Bronze

This bronze coin, or as, was produced in a mint in the Roman town of Nemausus, now Nîmes in southern France, in about 10-14 CE. Assis were a primary unit of Roman currency, similar to a dollar in US currency today, and had the same value as 12 unciae (or ounces). The obverse, or heads, side of the coin shows the emperor Augustus (aka. Octavian) and his friend and general Marcus Agrippa. Augustus is considered to be the first Roman emperor, and was the adopted son of Julius Caesar (his uncle). After the assassination of Julius Caesar a triumvirate, or alliance between three leaders, was formed amongst Augustus, Marc Antony, and Marcus Aemilius Lepidus to avenge the death of Caesar and bring his murderers to justice. Over time this alliance broke down and resulted in a civil war between Augustus and Marc Antony. During this conflict Marc Antony allied himself with the Egyptian queen Cleopatra VII. Cleopatra had strong ties to Rome, and owed much of her reign to the influence of Julius Caesar. She had an illegitimate son with Julius Caesar and was famously involved with Marc Antony, having three children with him just prior to their deaths. The reverse, or tails, side of the coin shows a crocodile chained to a palm tree. The chained crocodile is meant to represent the Roman victory against Cleopatra VII of Egypt in 31 BCE, and end of the Roman civil war against Marc Antony. The victory at the Battle of Actium, signaled the final defeat of Antony and was lead by Augustus and Agrippa. Roughly four years after this victory, the Roman town of Nemausus was given the name “colonia” and veterans from Augustus’ force in the war were given lands in and around Nemausus. This coin, and others like it, were produced around the time of Augustus’ (14 CE) and Agrippa’s (12 CE) deaths, to honor them and the victory that gave many of the residents of Nemausus their lands.

The following video describes the Battle of Actium in more detail.

[Kathryn S. (Barr) McCloud]

1 Response to “Object: Coin”

  1. 1 Gemma Pallisier March 5, 2012 at 1:29 am

    My Grandfather has a very similar coin – same shape, colour etc However the Obverse side of the coin shows a side profile of a man’s head, he has a large amount of curly hair and a curly beard. The reverse side of the coin has the same dots around the edge and similar letters/symbols however the picture is of a large eagle looking bird standing with wings outstretched and head turned. Do you have information about this coin?? If so please email me at gemma_pallisier@hotmail.com. I am very intrigued!

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Ethnology @ SNOMNH is an experimental weblog for sharing the collections of the Division of Ethnology at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History.


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