Though ancient historians left a trove of written records about life
centuries ago, the appearance of many pieces of the past are only
known from their depiction on coins.
A bronze sestertius of the famed Roman emperor Nero provides a
visual record of a triumphal arch whose details would otherwise be
unknown in history.
The circa A.D. 66 coin was sold in Classical
Numismatic Group’s sale No. 99, where it realized a hammer price of
$12,000 (against an estimate of $7,500) plus a buyer’s fee that varies
depending on bidding method (the total of prices was unavailable).
The coin weighs 24.95 grams and measures 36 millimeters, slightly
smaller than a Morgan silver dollar.
The piece was struck at the Lugdunum (Lyon) Mint, and depicts Nero
on the obverse with the arch on the reverse. The arch was erected to
commemorate Roman military campaigns against the Parthians in
Mesopotamia and Armenia.
According to the catalog, the coin type is “vitally important for
architectural historians as the arch’s appearance is only known
through its depictions on coins.”
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