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"...achieved nothing worthy of memory": Coinage and authority in the Roman empire c. AD 260-295
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of Archaeology and Ancient History, Classical archaeology and ancient history.
2008 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This study examines how the Roman emperors c. AD. 260–295 attempt at maintaining their power-bases through legitimation of their claims to power, with reference to various potentially powerful groups of society, such as the military, the inhabitants of the provinces and the senate in Rome. The purpose has been to discern the development of ‘Roman imperial ideology’ in an age which has frequently been referred to as an ‘age of military anarchy.’ Focus is on how claims to power could be expressed through visual media. Of such media, mainly the coins struck for the emperors c. AD 260-295 have been studied. A close investigation has been made of the iconography of these coins. Furthermore, the ways in which coin-images are modified and combined with various legends are studied. An additional purpose of this investigation has been to provide a comment on the general potential of conveying visual imagery and messages on objects such as coins and medallions.

The study argues that novel, intricate and multi-layered images were created on the coins struck for the emperors c. AD 260-295. Furthermore, it is suggested that these coin-images were created to assume the function of larger-scale expressions of imperial authority, such as triumphal arches and imperial statues. This adaption of coinage was made because there was a need for intensified communication of imperial authority. This need arose due to the incessant warfare of the age, and a process of regionalization of the empire, which was connected to this warfare. The conclusion is that these coins provide an illustration of the development of the Roman empire in the second half of the third century. This was a development by which the city of Rome lost its importance in favour of regional capitals, and ultimately in favour of Constantinople.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis , 2008. , 270 p.
Studia numismatica Upsaliensia, ISSN 1652-7232 ; 5
Keyword [en]
Classical archaeology and ancient history, Roman empire, soldier-emperor, crisis, propaganda, language of images, authority, legitimacy, communication, coinage, coin-imagery, war, military, court, Rome, regionalization, consecration, dynasty, divine sanction
Keyword [sv]
Antikens kultur och samhällsliv
National Category
Humanities History and Archaeology
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-8511ISBN: 978-91-554-7120-0OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-8511DiVA: diva2:171556
Public defence
2008-04-25, Auditorium Minus, Gustavianum, Akademigatan 3, Uppsala, 13:15
Available from: 2008-04-04 Created: 2008-04-04 Last updated: 2013-09-18Bibliographically approved

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Hedlund, Ragnar
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