Ship prow on Roman coin

08 May 2017  Mon

The curious nature of mankind had enabled him to discover and invent various aspects which benefited its development. It’s not a surprising notion that since primitive time man had the knowledge of seafaring. There were many civilizations who indulged in this exploration but Romans were late bloomers in this skill.

Romans were not great seafarers but after the First Punic War (264-241 BCE) their heavy bronze (Aes grave) coinage commemorated their creation of navy. Though their designs have changed drastically, centuries later the Roman bronze coins are still called as ‘ships’. The silver coins which were issued to pay the army of Mark Antony during the civil war can be an example for the most common silver coins depicting a ship.

The above shown coin belongs to the Aes grave As a type of Roman Republic Coinage. The obverse of this coin depicts the janiform head of Janus. The reverse of the coin depicts a prow of ship facing right and 'I' denomination mark depicted above it. The ‘I’ mark represents the face value ‘AS’ which is the highest denomination of Roman republic during pre-denarius coinage.

Later on emperor Nero (54-68 Ce) built port of Osria at the mouth of river Tiber. The aerial view of this port harbouring seven ships is depicted on the silver Sestertius coins with Neptune, god of the sea depicted below it.

There were many denominations in Roman coinage that depicted the ship or ship prow. The coins depicted the ship which took their fleets in the Mediterranean Sea connecting it to Egypt and further to the southern shores of Indian Peninsula.

Some Interesting facts :
• According to Polybius, Roman captured warships that ran aground and proceeded to reverse the engineer techniques of it. They built 100 copies that became the backbone of roman fleet.
• These coins issued for the army of Mark Antony honour 23 numbered legion and two elite.
To Know about Maritime heritage of Indian Click here.

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