Thursday, October 8, 2009

More on the Colosseum Sestertii

A shameless plug.

Since I started this website, I have received several inquiries about the Colosseum sestertii. Those individuals may be interested to know that a third article on the Colosseum sestertii will appear in Numismatic Chronicle 2009: N.T. Elkins, "What are they doing here? Flavian Colosseum Sestertii from Archaeological Contexts in Hessen and the Taunaus-Wetterau Limes (with an Addendum on NC 2006)."

This short article discusses five Colosseum sestertii that were produced through archaeological excavation at three different sites in the area around modern Frankfurt, Germany. What is peculiar is that the type is very rare (with only five obverse dies known and approximately 50 extant specimens) and so the number that has appeared in this tight geographical region of approximately 20 km is remarkable. In the article I make reference to other archaeological work on coin supply and circulation in the area and propose an historical explanation for the presence of these coins in a region where they would otherwise be unexpected. The short article will be followed by an addendum listing specimens that were missed or which have surfaced since the 2006 die study and catalogue ("The Flavian Colosseum Sestertii: Currency or Largess?"), as well as some additional references for previously catalogued specimens and corrigenda. No new dies or links have appeared.

This short article provides no great revelations, but may be of interest for those who are interested in the Colosseum sestertii or who would like the supplemental information for the more important article and die study from 2006.

I was contacted early in the summer by a production crew making yet another documentary on the Colosseum and they were interested in discussing evidence provided by the coin representations. They seemed most interested in the argument about the location of the imperial box, discussed in the first article ("Locating the Imperial Box in the Flavian Amphitheatre: The Numismatic Evidence"), though most readers will have recognized that the numismatic evidence was used more as a way at introducing some of the fundamental problems with the idea that the box was located on the southern side, a thought which seems to have been perpetuated since Lugli wrote it as an assumption in a few of his works. In most cases, I do not believe that coin representations were meant to be 100% faithful renderings of the monuments in question and am sceptical about many attempts to base reconstructions on numismatic evidence alone. If I recall correctly, the inquiry was for a British documentary and so if anyone sees discussion of the Colosseum sestertii or the location of the imperial box in some new British documentary, please do let me know!

End shameless plug.

Photo: Colosseum sestertius of Domitian for Divus Titus, AD 81. Münzkabinett der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin, Objektnummer 18204487



Update: A hyperlink to the Colosseum sestertius illustrated above has been inserted above.