Münze, Sesterz, 96
Image: Laureate head of Nerva looking right
Inscription: IMP NERVA CAES AVG P M TR P COS II PP
Image: Palm tree
Inscription: FISCI IVDAICI CALVMNIA SVBLATA // S C
This coin was minted in Rome the year of Nerva’s accession to power, that is in 96 CE (Nerva actually became emperor in September 96 CE). It was one of four emissions of sestertii, minted in 96 and 97 CE, that advertised and celebrated a change made by Nerva to the Fiscus Iudaicus, and has been considered significant evidence for the relationship between the Roman state and the Jews (for the three other emissions see RIC II, Nerva, no. 59, 72 and 82, p. 227-228; see also Goodman, “The meaning of Fisci Iudaici Calumnia Sublata,” p. 81; Shotter, “The principate of Nerva,” p. 218). On the obverse of the coin the head of the emperor is depicted, with an inscription that refers to Nerva as imperator, Caesar, Augustus, pontifex maximus, holder of the tribunicia potestas, consul for the second time, and pater patriae, or father of the country. The reverse of the coin has attracted the most attention: the image is of a palm tree – a symbol commonly used to refer to the province of Judea –, around which is inscribed FISCI IUDAICI CALUMNIA SUBLATA. The legend is difficult to translate, as the following discussion shall demonstrate, but the coin appears to refer to a change to the functioning of the Fiscus Iudaicus, that is into the fund that had been established to collect the Jewish tax, enacted by Nerva and which he sought to advertise widely in the capital city.
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