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"...achieved nothing worthy of memory": Coinage and authority in the Roman empire c. AD 260-295

"This study examines how the Roman emperors c. AD. 260–295 attempt at maintaining their power-bases through legitimation of their claims to power, with reference to various potentially powerful groups of society, such as the military, the inhabitants of the provinces and the senate in Rome. The purpose has been to discern the development of ‘Roman imperial ideology’ in an age which has frequently been referred to as an ‘age of military anarchy.’ Focus is on how claims to power could be expressed through visual media. Of such media, mainly the coins struck for the emperors c. AD 260-295 have been studied. A close investigation has been made of the iconography of these coins. Furthermore, the ways in which coin-images are modified and combined with various legends are studied. An additional purpose of this investigation has been to provide a comment on the general potential of conveying visual imagery and messages on objects such as coins and medallions. The study argues that novel, intricate and multi-layered images were created on the coins struck for the emperors c. AD 260-295. Furthermore, it is suggested that these coin-images were created to assume the function of larger-scale expressions of imperial authority, such as triumphal arches and imperial statues. This adaption of coinage was made because there was a need for intensified communication of imperial authority. This need arose due to the incessant warfare of the age, and a process of regionalization of the empire, which was connected to this warfare. The conclusion is that these coins provide an illustration of the development of the Roman empire in the second half of the third century. This was a development by which the city of Rome lost its importance in favour of regional capitals, and ultimately in favour of Constantinople."

Author(s):  Hedlund, Ragnar
Format:  Book
Publisher:  Uppsala University, Humanistisk-samhällsvetenskapliga vetenskapsområdet, Faculty of Arts, Department of Archaeology and Ancient History, Classical archaeology and ancient history
Publication City:  Uppsala
Date:  2008
ISSN:  1652-7232
ISBN:  978-91-554-7120-0
Series:  Studia Numismatica Upsaliensia, ISSN 1652-7232 ; 5