Denomination: AE Bronze
Date: 383-408 A.D.
History: Ancient Roman Coin from One of the Virgin Mary’s Most Influential Benefactors
As Christianity spread through the ancient world, the worship of local gods and goddesses was modified into the veneration of the saints. One such saint was Mary, Virgin Mother of Jesus Christ. However, Mary’s following was relatively small until Pulcheria, the eldest daughter of Emperor Arcadius, convinced her father to build several churches in Mary’s honor. Were it not for the emperor’s daughter, Mary may never have been widely recognized as the Mother of God!
Pulcheria dedicated herself to Mary at a young age and even took a vow of chastity. More importantly, she was able to secure any favor she wished from her father, who conceded to his daughter’s every request. Thanks to Pulcheria’s efforts to proclaim Mary as the Mother of God, the cult of Mary rose from fledgling sect to arguably the most popular faction in all of Christianity — thanks in no small part to the bank account of her father, making Roman Emperor Arcadius one of the earliest and most influential benefactors to Mary and the Christian Church.
This bronze coin of Arcadius displays his profile, paired with a variety of religious or military themes. Reverse designs vary. Coins date between 383 and 408
History of the Roman Mint: The Mint was established at the Temple of a Roman God Juno Moneta. The word “money” is derived from this god’s name. These mints relied on vast numbers of manual laborers. Since each coin had to be struck by hand, no two are identical.
The making of each coin required the labor of three men: one to hold the coin blank in place with special tongs, one to hold the die over the blank, and one to strike the hammer blow that minted the coin. More than one hammer blow was often necessary to transfer the die image to the coin. Some coins feature a ghost image resulting from a die shift between two hammer blows. This is also why an image is not often centered on a coin.
Roman coins were made from gold, silver, brass, bronze, billion and copper. Some emperors lowered the percentage of gold and silver in precious metal coins and the effects on the Roman economy were disastrous. The value of base metal coins was derived from the good faith and authority of the icon engraved on the coin. When the rulers face appeared on a base metal coin lost power, the coin lost its value. Roman armies carried portable mints so they could make new money on an as-needed basis. A ruler’s engraved portrait on a coin reminded his soldiers who controlled their pay. Julius Caesar was the first living Roman to appear on a coin.