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Roman Empire

Ruler: Aurelian
Reigned: 270 - 275 AD
Denomination: AE Antoninianus/Aurelianus
Mint: Rome
Date of Issue: summer - autumn 274
Obverse: Radiate, draped and cuirassed bust right. "IMP. AVRELIANVS AVG."
Reverse: Sol walking right, holding vexillum (sometimes trophy) in right hand and globe surmounted by a lunar crescent with left hand, left foot resting on a captive in oriental dress kneeling on the ground to right, head turned left and right hand raised. "ORIENS AVG."
Mint marks:
Reference: RCVM 11568, RIC V.1 65, New RIC temp. no. #1763
Weight: 4.3 gms
Diameter: 21.7 mm
Comment: "Quite early in his reign Aurelian carried out a reform of the coinage. He increased the size and weight of the antoniniani and there appears to have been an improvement in the technique of applying the silver wash, as specimens still showing the silvery coating are far more frequently encountered than with the pre-reform coins. A mark of value (XXI or KA) was also placed on some of the new antoniniani.This has been taken to mean that Aurelian re-tariffed the antoninianus at 1/20th of the aureus, the mark meaning "20 of these equal 1 aureus". There are, however, many other theories as to the meaning of these marks. Denarii, sestertii and asses were re-introduced and the average weight of the aurei was increased from 5.54 grammes to 6.50 grammes. No attempt was made, however, to re-introduce the silver coinage, this step not being taken until Diocletian's reform, twenty-five years later." Sear: Roman Coins and their values.

AURELIAN (Lucius Domitius Aurelianus)

  • Aurelian was born in September 214 in the province of Moesia in the Balkans, son of Aurelius, a tenant farmer and wealthy senator.
  • He made a career in the army, rising through the ranks, serving with distinction on the Danube frontier under Gallienus and Claudius.
  • Aurelian was commander of the cavalry on the Danube frontier in August 270, when Claudius died.
  • After a very short reign by Claudius's brother, Quintillus, Aurelian was aclaimed emperor by his soldiers.
  • In 271 he returned to the Danube frontier to fight the Vandals and Sarmatians, who he drove back across the Danube.
  • News arrived that other Germans, the Juthungi and Marcomanni, had invaded northern Italy. Aurelian was defeated by them initially, and the invaders were able to advance as far as Piacenza before being turned back in two major battles.
  • Because of the invasion, Aurelian decided to build a wall around the city of Rome. The Wall of Aurelian, begun in 271, was completed by the emperor and remains in good condition today.
  • Aurelian was challenged by a number of rivals in 271 and 272: Domitianus in the Balkans, Septimius in Dalmatia, and one named Urbanus.
  • In the east the ruler of Palmyra, Zenobia and her son, Vabalathus controlled all the lands between Egypt and Asia Minor and had to be dealt with. Vabalathus had been granted titles (Vir Clarissimus, Rex Imperator, Dux Romanorum?) but had then had himself declared Augustus. They were defeated in battles at Immae and Emesa. They retreated to Palmyra but were beseiged by the Romans in 272. Zenobia attempted to take off on a camel to seek the help of the Persians, but was caught and taken to Rome with her son to be paraded in 's triumph.
  • A further rebellion ensued when the Roman garrison was slaughtered, but this was put down by Aurelian, with no clemency being shown.
  • In the summer of 274 Aurelian defeated the last Gallic emperor, Tetricus at the battle of Chalons-sur-Marne.
  • In 274 there was a revolt by the moneyers at Rome, led by Felicissimus, controller of the mint. The rebels took refuge on the Caelian Hill, and in the fighting which followed some 7000 soldiers were killed.
  • In 275 Aurelian set out for the north, to defeat another incursion by the Juthungi, and then travelled east to raise a new army aginst the Persians.
  • Later in the year he was at Coenofrurium near Perinthus, preparing to cross the Bosphorus, when he was murdered. The miscreants were Eros, his private secretary, and members of the praetorian guard.
  • He was succeeded by Tacitus.

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