Large denomination minted by the Roman provincial administration of Judea depicting the head of Domitian and a trophy (92 CE)


Large denomination 

81 CE to 96 CE



Caesarea Maritima

Actual Location (Collection/Museum): 

Israel Museum, Jerusalem, inventory number: 71.584

Name of Ruler: 


Obverse (Image and Inscription): 

Image: Bust of Domitian with laurel wreath

Inscription: IMP DOMIT AVG GERM 

Reverse (Image and Inscription): 

Reverse (Image and Inscription): 

Image: Trophy

Inscription: VICTOR AVG

Diameter (mm): 
Weight (g): 
Roman Provincial Coinage II.1, 2309.
This large bronze denomination, minted at Caesarea Maritima by the Roman provincial administration between 81 and 96 CE, depicts the bust of Domitian on the obverse, wearing a laurel wreath, and on the reverse a trophy. The inscription in Latin on the obverse refers to Domitian as Imperator, Domitian Augustus, Germanicus, while that on the reverse mentions the Victoria Augusti, or the imperial victory, symbolized by the image of the trophy. In the wake of the Jewish War, Vespasian changed the juridical status of Judea, and the province became a senatorial province in 70 CE. The governor, a member of the senatorial order, sported the rank of legatus augusti pro praetore. Caesarea became not just the seat of the Roman governor, but also the main city of the province; it was elevated by Vespasian to the rank of colonia, with the name Colonia Prima Flavia Augusta Caesarea. While the Roman administration of Caesarea Maritima did not mint any issue under Vespasian and Titus, during the reign of Domitian three series of issues were minted (see Levine, “Some observations,” p. 135 for a table detailing the numbers of types minted at Caesarea from the period of Nero to Gallus). The first series was issued before 84 CE; according to Ian Carradice, the second series was struck between 86 and 92 CE, and the third series in 92-93 CE.
This issue is the largest of a series of three denominations – organised into such groups by Ian Carradice, based on the portrait styles and obverse legends - minted at Caesarea under the rule of Domitian (see Carradice, “Coinage in Judaea in the Flavian Period, AD 70-96,” p. 14-21). On the obverse of all the denominations, Domitian’s head is depicted. The first denomination, to which this coin belongs, and which includes two similar types, depicts on the reverse a trophy. The second denomination, which includes three similar types, depicts on the reverse the goddess Minerva and other symbols of victory; Domitian had claimed the special protection of Minerva, worship of whom was to prove very popular under his rule (see Suetonius, Life of Domitian, 15.3; Jones, The Emperor Domitian, p. 101; Hendin, “Echoes of Judaea Capta,” p. 128). The third denomination depicts on the reverse various symbols, which all have a common denominator of being indicative of Roman victory. These symbols include trophies of arms, Nikē-Victoria, and the palm tree. Ya‘akov Meshorer rightly argues that all these coins bear on the obverse symbols much similar to those found on the various coins minted in Rome to celebrate Domitian’s victory against the Germans (for this victory, see Suetonius, Life of Domitian, 6; Tacitus, Agricola, 39; Jones, The Emperor Domitian, p. 128-131). Therefore, these symbols, may possibly relate to Domitian’s victories in Germany. According to David Hendin, however, these symbols commemorate the Roman triumph after the Jewish War, even if some victory motifs on the coins minted in Rome, which appear on the earlier Iudaea Capta coins, as the palm branch of victory and the trophy, are missing in this series (Hendin, “Echoes of ‘Judea Capta’,” p. 123-130). As Lee Levine noted, the decision to mint Iudaea Capta coins in Caesarea may have been in anticipation of a renewed Jewish uprising in the region and Rome’s intention to demonstrate their control and supremacy over the Jews (Levine, “Some observations,” p. 133). However, the fact that Minerva, the personal goddess of Domitian, is included in a prominent place in the second denomination of this series, suggests that these coins were also intended to celebrate Domitian’s campaigns in Germany. The purpose of this issue is in fact double. On the one hand, the issue celebrates the young emperor’s victories in faraway Germany; on the other hand, it serves to warn the local population against future revolts.

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