From Art to Artifact:  Making Sense of Roman Coins

Coin of Julia Domna

Coin Information

Obverse: Right-facing, female bust, identified as Julia Domna; IVLIA PIA F(E)LIX AVG. clockwise, beginning at 8 o’clock and ending at 4 o’clock. The figure’s hair is drawn down and up in the back to form an intricate criss-cross called the “alla tartaruga”. This particular hairstyle is important as a clear movement away from the loose hair of Domna’s early obverses. The figure’s profile is stern, with a sharp nose, sunken eyes, and pursed lips. The neck of the figure’s garment is visible. Border of dots.

Reverse: Beginning at 7 o’clock VESTA reads just within the border. A cloaked female figure, identified as Vesta by the legend, faces left wearing a shroud and draped in an intricately layered garment; the top layer falls at mid-thigh with the bottom layer continuing to her ankles. The figure’s left knee is bent, enabling her to pivot and gaze left over her shoulder. She holds a scepter in her left hand and the Palladium in her right hand. The scepter has the same height as the figure and culminates in a point. The Palladium is about 1/3 the size of the figure and its weight is expressed by the bend in the figure’s elbow. Border of dots.