From Art to Artifact:  Making Sense of Roman Coins

Denarius of Augustus

Research Commentary

Augustus used this coin to announce his grandsons, Gaius and Lucius, whom he had adopted, as his successors. This issue of coinage was so heavily produced that scholars are confronted with a conundrum as to how so many were generated in such a short time, a period of about six years. Some scholars have proposed that it was actually minted for a longer period of time, although this would mean that Augustus was still producing this coin after Gaius and Lucius’ death and after he had already named Tiberius as heir. More probably the mint at Lugdunum simply had copious bullion and massed-produced dies available to manufacture this coin in large volumes. Its abundance, iconography and significance in the ancient world made it readily available to copy and influential to later emperors.