Coin (obverse), a gold aureus of Trajan

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Postcard of Coin (obverse), a gold aureus of Trajan.
© National Museums Scotland

Coin (obverse), a gold aureus of Trajan

This gold coin was minted for the Roman emperor Trajan sometime between 114 and 117 AD. It is a type of coin known as an aureus, used in Scotland by the Roman army for dealings within the army or with foreign merchants.

The obverse has the bust of the emperor Trajan. He is surrounded by an inscription reading 'IMP. CAES NER TRAIANO OPTIMO AVG GER DAC', which is part of a long abbreviated list of the emperor's official titles, continued on the reverse.

The foundation of the Roman imperial coinage system was the silver denarius. Alongside this there was a limited gold series, based on the aureus, and a base metal series based on the sestertius. An aureus was of high value, worth 25 denarii.

Classical historians regularly say that in the late Roman Republic and early Roman Empire the daily wage for a laborer was one denarius. The denarius was first struck in 211 BC during the Roman Republic, valued at 10 asses, giving the denarius its name which translates to "containing ten". In 118 BC it was re-tariffed at 16 asses, to reflect the decrease in size of the As. The As was a bronze or copper coin. The denarius continued to be the main coin of the empire until it was replaced by the antoninianus in the middle of the 3rd century AD.

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Online ID: 000-100-050-703-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0098: National Museums Scotland
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  H.C251
Date: 114 - 117
Minted between 114 and 117 AD
Material: Gold; moderate wear. Inscription: Obv. IMP . CAES NER TRAIANO OPTIMO AVG GER DAC; bust laureate draped right with aegis / Rev. P M TRP COS VI PP SPQR; Genius standing left, holding patera and corn-ears
Dimensions: 19.00 x 19.50 mm D / Die Axis: 7.0
What: Coin Type: RIC 347 - 8 var
Coin, aureus
Subject: Queen Street Coin Collection
Who: Genius
Where: Italy, Rome
Description: Gold aureus of Trajan, Rome, 114 - 117
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