Gold aureus of Aurelian


British Museum

British Museum

When Aurelian became emperor in AD 270, the Roman world was in crisis. The frontiers of the empire were constantly under threat of barbarian invasion. The western provinces of Germany, Gaul (France), Britain and the Iberian peninsula had become autonomous under their own emperors, while the Asian provinces were falling under the control of Queen Zenobia of Palmyra.For a brief five-year period, Aurelian returned stability and unity to the Roman empire. He brought both western and eastern provinces back into the fold, built powerful walls around the city of Rome which still stand to this day, and re-established the reputation of the Roman coinage.This beautiful gold piece is a perfect symbol of Aurelian's rejuvenated empire - made of pure gold and of full weight. It is unlike the debased and light gold coins made by his beleaguered predecessor, Gallienus (AD 253-68). Aurelian was a man of charisma and talent, but his luck ran out in AD 275 when, like so many other emperors in the turbulent third century AD, he fell to the assassin's knife.

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  • Title: Gold aureus of Aurelian
  • Date Created: 270/275
  • Physical Dimensions: Weight: 5.280g
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Subject: emperor/empress; classical deity; allegory/personification
  • Registration number: 1964,1203.140
  • Production place: Minted in Rome
  • Period/culture: Roman Imperial
  • Material: gold
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Authority: Ruler Aurelian
  • Acquisition: Bequeathed by Clark, Allen George


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