Gold aurei with portraits of the young Faustina II


British Museum

British Museum

Roman ladies of the imperial court were keen followers of fashion. Portraits would change frequently and some statues have even been found with detachable hair sections to accommodate this! Faustina II (about AD 132-176) was the daughter of the emperor Antoninus Pius (reigned AD 138-161) and also the wife of his successor, Marcus Aurelius (reigned AD 161-180). Faustina would have been about 15 years old when married in AD 147, and since her mother had died many years previously, she became in effect the First Lady of the Roman world, and the leader of feminine fashion for her generation. The coin die engravers of the period paid close attention to physical detail, and reflect numerous changes in style. Even a brief study of her coin portraits exemplifies the concern that was taken to convey the details of each look:

1) Her hair is worn in a chignon fastened with pearls
2) New style with stephane (chaplet)
3) This style is adorned with a pearl headband.

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  • Title: Gold aurei with portraits of the young Faustina II
  • Date Created: 145/161
  • Physical Dimensions: Weight: 7.280g; Die-axis: 6.00oc
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Subject: emperor/empress; allegory/personification; classical deity
  • Registration number: 1856,1101.82
  • Production place: Minted in Rome
  • Place: Excavated/Findspot El Jem
  • Period/culture: Roman Imperial
  • Material: gold
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Authority: Ruler Antoninus Pius
  • Acquisition: Purchased from Tappia


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