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A Note on Late Roman Art: The Provincial Origins of Camp Gate and Baldachin

Iconography on the Late Imperial Coinage

Author(s): Nathan T. Elkins
Source: American Journal of Numismatics (1989-), Vol. 25 (2013), pp. 283-302
Published by: American Numismatic Society
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Accessed: 06-12-2017 10:09 UTC

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AJN Second Series 25 (2013) pp. 283-302
© 2013 The American Numismatic Society

A Note on Late Roman Art:

The Provincial Origins of Camp Gate and Baldachin
Iconography on the Late Imperial Coinage

Plates 33-35 Nathan T. Elkins*

Some of the most common images on late Roman imperial coins are the so-
called camp gate types that first appeared under Diocletian and which were
repeated throughout the fourth and fifth centuries ad. This late imperial ico-
nography also served as the inspiration for coin designs in early medieval
Europe. Scholarship on the camp gate images has focused on the places that
the gates make reference to. Did they signify a specific fortress, a city, a ge-
neric camp, the Castra Praetoriaì Instead, this article addresses the origins
of the camp gate iconography through the lens of theories on late Roman art.
Scholars have remarked on the increased influence of provincial and plebe-
ian forms and styles in late Roman art. As the chronologies and production
contexts for coins are well understood, it is possible to trace the introduction
of the iconography and its spread. Practical application of theory suggests that
imperial die engravers were influenced by regional traditions of city gates that
appeared on the coins of the Balkans and northwestern Asia Minor in preced-
ing decades. Practical conditions were responsible for local images becoming
late imperial art. The provincial origin of baldachin types with spirally-fluted
columns on late imperial coins is also explored.

* Baylor University, Department of Art (


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284 Nathan T. Elkins

Figure i. The Oratio Relief on the

The definition of Roman art has been rewritten numerous times over the last
one hundred years.1 Todays students of Roman art have more or less come to
terms with its multiplicity of forms and styles while they find consistency by
understanding state-sanctioned Roman art as part of a sophisticated semantic
system.2 But questions of form and style in the art of the late Roman Empire
continue to stir debate.
The contemporary reliefs on the Arch of Constantine, such as the Oratio
Relief (Fig. 1), exemplify the stereotypical form of late Roman art: rigid frontality,
hierarchical scale, and the exaggerated use of gaze and gesture to draw attention to
the central figures. On the other hand, naturalism and classicism persisted in other
artworks well into Late Antiquity, especially in the elite luxury arts.3 Scholars have
sought to explain why public art in the later Roman Empire exhibited simplified
forms that are distinctive from the predominant classicizing and naturalistic
tendencies of imperial art of the first and second centuries. Berenson asserted
that the Constantinian reliefs and the arch's incorporation of spolia indicated
that they, and late Roman art more generally, were the degenerate products of a
declining empire;4 competent artists could not be found or afforded. Nonetheless,
state-sanctioned art in the Roman Empire always conveyed a message to an
intended group of viewers in spite of its changing forms. It is largely for these
reasons that more nuanced interpretations of late Roman art play a central role in
present art historical discourses. The formal arrangement and exaggerated gazes
of the figures on the Constantinian reliefs may have been chosen since they were
easily intelligible to more viewers and, therefore, more politically expedient.5 The
incorporation of spolia into the arch may have reinforced Constantine s connection
with benevolent emperors like Trajan, Hadrian, and Marcus Aurelius rather than
being an indicator of artistic or economic impoverishment.6

i Brilliant 2007 provides historiographical discussion.

2 Tonio Hölscher (e.g. 1982, 1984, 1987, 1992, 2000, and 2004) is the leading proponent
of this interpretation.
3 Kitzinger 1977: 22-44; Kiilerich 1993.
4 Berenson 1954.
5 Bianchi Bandinelli 1971: 76-80; Kitzinger 1976: 12-13.
6 e.g. Eisner 2000.

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Provincial Origins of Camp Gate and Baldachin Iconography 285

Bianchi Bandinelli explored the origins of late Roman stylistic forms. In so

doing, he discerned relationships between state- sanctioned late Roman art, the
art of the provinces, and the art of the lower classes ("plebeian art"). He suggested
that the relationships between a late Roman "style" and plebian or provincial
art signaled the rise of people from the lower classes and from the provinces in
the third century; the new style of imperial art reflected the tastes of this new,
powerful class.7 Bianchi Bandinellis arguments were provocative, but his social
and artistic distinctions were rigid and colored by his own political disposition.8
Although he generalized about late Roman art, Bianchi Bandinelli established a
framework in which scholars conceived of late Roman art as something made
by and responsive to the changing society in which it was produced.9 The form
of Roman art could have been dictated by any number of social, cultural, and
practical factors. Bianchi Bandinelli was right to point out commonalities between
some styles of late imperial art and the art of plebeians and the provinces insofar as
they provide a means to think about the practicalities of making state-sanctioned
art in the later Roman Empire.
In the following pages, it is argued that local traditions of architectural
representation on provincial coinage survived and were propagated on the late
imperial coinage. An exploration of how these local modes of architectural
representation were transferred to the empire-wide currency imparts a more
nuanced and practical view of how, at least in terms of numismatic representations,
"provincial art" influenced late imperial and early medieval iconography.
The Imperial vs. the Provincial Coinage

Coinage in the Roman Empire is divided into two general categories until the
end of the third century ad: the imperial coinage and the provincial coinage. Th
imperial coinage consisted of gold, silver, and bronze denominations typically
struck at Rome or Lugdunum. The gold and silver coins could circulate across
the vast expanse of the Roman Empire.10 Imperial bronze circulated primarily
the western provinces since the locally produced bronze coinage in these area
died out in the reigns of Tiberius and Caligula. In the eastern provinces, a local
produced provincial coinage, typically of bronze, persisted until the end of th
third century. The most active period for the provincial coinage was the reign
Septimius Severus when hundreds of eastern cities were striking coins.11
Political and military crises in the third century necessitated the establishment
of additional imperial mints throughout the Roman Empire to provide military pay

7 Bianchi Bandinelli 1961: 189-233; Bianchi Bandinelli 1971.

8 cf. Brilliant 1973.
9 Stewart 2008: 168-170.
10 The bibliography on gold, silver, and bronze coin circulation is large. As an introdu
tion, the reader is advised to consult Duncan- Jones 1989 and 1999.
11 Burnett 1987: 64. Butcher 1988: 19; Howgego 1985: 91 n. 62.

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286 Nathan T. Elkins

The city of Rome itself had diminis

made in the provinces and spent mo
the frontier. Economic turmoil led
the predominant imperial silver de
in turn led to the closure of the pr
and western imperial mints produc
coinage, there was simply no longer
in the East. As part of the imperial
a system of imperial mints from Lo
the Empires need for coinage.
Provincial coins, as a rule, had circ
minted.12 This phenomenon has be
and archaeology.13 It is unsurprisin
coins pertained to local events, histo
directly to the ideology of the impe
on the provincial coins presents an o
imperial coinage back to their prov
which provincial art became late Ro
The Provincial Origins of Camp Gates
on Late Imperial Coinage

Among the most ubiquitous images on the reverses of late Roman imperial coin
are the so-called "camp gates." The earliest of these late imperial types do not sh
camp gates at all, but rather four tetrarchs sacrificing over a tripod while standin
before an isometric view of a crenellated camp or city (PL 33, 1). This design fi
appeared on the silver coins of the tetrarchy at the imperial mints of Cyzicu
Heraclea Thraciae, and Nicomedia in c. ad 294-295 (for the location of imperia
and provincial mints in the Eastern Mediterranean that are discussed in this te
see fig. 2). 14 From these mints, the reverse type spread eastward to the imper

12 Burnett 1987: 63-65 summarizes changes in the imperial coinage system during t
third and fourth centuries. See also Estiot 2012 and Abdy 2012.
13 lhe first study to substantiate the "rule of locality" in detail, largely through hoar
analysis, was Jones 1963: 313-324. Published reports of excavated finds also prove t
point. For example, the provincial bronze coinage found at Nemea is primarily from th
most proximate cities that struck coins, Corinth and Argos (Knapp and Mac Isaac 20
36-48). At Corinth, the majority of the provincial bronze coins finds are from Corin
followed by coins from cities in central Greece and Macedonia (Edwards 1933). At Athen
Athenian provincial bronze coins are the most abundant followed by coins from other
ies in Achaea and Thessaly (Kroll 1993). And at Priene, the provincial coin finds primar
consist of coins struck at neighboring cities (Regling 1927: 179, 187-193; also discussed
Knapp and Mac Isaac 2005: 41-42).
14 Pink 1930: 25. For the chronology of the different tetrarchie camp gate types refer
Pink 1930 in conjunction with RIC VI.

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Provincial Origins of Camp Gate and Baldachin Iconography 287

»7- o c k sea
Augusta jAnchialus P
. Tratara

I Thessakmka ^ ~ aPrusias ad Hypium
? /^¡5 V ^ ļ __^ü»Nicomedi#
N. Diunw çk Q

' ^ ° Ç Caesarea

' Ä ' , / (
1A . ' 0 OD ý '

r r a «
• Late Roman Imperial M
• Provincial Minis that struck
o Provincial Mint that struck baldachin types ^ ^

Figure 2. Map of the eastern Mediterranean showing the locations of provincial mints that
struck camp gate and baldachin types and the locations of late imperial mints.

mints at Antioch and Alexandria and westward to Siscia, Rome, Ticinum, and
Trier. Trier struck the type as late as ad 301. Legends that accompanied the image
were VICTORIA SARMATICAE (or some abbreviation thereof), VIRTVS MILITVM, or
PROVIDENTIA AVGG and clearly communicate the message of tetrarchie martial
prowess. Respective translations of the legends are "Victory over Sarmatia," "Virtue
of the soldiers," and "Foresight of the emperors."
Shortly after the introduction of this design in c. ad 294 at the mints of
Cyzicus, Heraclea, and Nicomedia, Nicomedia began to strike a new, but related,
design in c. ad 295. The reverses of these silver and base metal coins depict the
two-dimensional façade of a fortified gate with four domical structures atop it (PL
33, 2). 15 One variant type from Nicomedia has eagles upon the domical structures;

15 Apart from the first tetrarchie types with an isometric view of crenellated camp or
city, most coins from the fourth to fifth centuries depicted façades with domical structures,
although variants show crenellations instead. These domical structures are distinctly round
structures supported by three vertical beams. It is unclear what, if any, significance these
may have had. E. Baldwin Smith (1956: 42-44 et passim ) interpreted them as symbolic of
the heavenly sphere. Cosmologica! iconography on the camp or city gate types of the fourth

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288 Nathan T. Elkins

Pink interpreted the eagles as symbolic

Empires security. Antioch and Alexan
of a simplified façade (without eagles
respectively, but their representations
the type with three structures appea
The design appeared at the mints of S
three or four structures), Serdica in
and Aquileia in ad 306. Rome struck
These reverse images were complemen
(often abbreviated), VIRTVS MILITVM
("Victory of the soldiers"), or CONCO
soldiers;" this legend is only found o
mints of Rome (ad 298-299) and Ti
showed a façade surmounted by three
structures above it to indicate a three
Rome have either the legends PROVIDE
from Ticinum have only PROVIDENT
did not recall any specific place, but
through certain legends and to the E
Therefore, they should probably be in
Camp gate designs were revived
Licinius. In ad 317-320, the imperial
coins showing the façade of a camp g
these designs were the tetrarchie arge
unlike many of the tetrarchie types,
four. Those reverse types with the lege
obverses of Licinius or Constantine w
CAESS ("Foresight of the princes") were
Licinius II, Crispus, or Constantine
late as ad 333 the reverse type was p
mints, appearing on coins struck as f
and Egypt; those cities that struck t
Aries, Ticinum, Rome, Siscia, Sirmiu
Nicomedia, Cyzicus, Antioch, and Ale

and fifth centuries is apparent through the

the structure. Another possibility is that
16 Pink 1930: 12; R.-Alföldi 2001 (repr. o
115. Hill 1984: 215 asserts that the type sh
ric view of camp or city was meant to ev
that claim, especially when considering th
foot in Rome. Pensa 2011 and 2012 exam
coin iconography; the depiction of gates i
connoted on Roman coinage.

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Provincial Origins of Camp Gate and Baldachin Iconography 289

ranged between two and four and a star also appeared above the camp gates (PL
33, 6). Reverse designs were paired with the legends FIDES MILITVM ("Fidelity of
MAX AVG VOT XXX ("Vows of 30 years of our master Constantine the greatest
Augustus;" this legend was used at Ticinum only). Since Licinius had been
defeated by this time, the reverses were paired with obverses of Constantine or his
sons: Crispus (until ad 326), Constantine II, and Constantius II.
The emperors of the Valentinian Dynasty utilized the camp gate image yet
again. In ad 367-375, a camp gate with two domical structures and a star above it
appeared on the bronze coinage of Valentinian I, Valens, and Gratian at the mints
of Trier and Constantinople. Constantinople paired the image with the legends
("Glory of the Romans") while Trier used only the latter. Valentinian II, Theodosius I,
and Arcadius used the same design with the legends GLORIA REIPVBLICE or
GLORIA ROMANORVM between ad 383 and ad 388 at Thessalonica. In place of a
star, these coins bore a Christogram above the camp gate (PI. 33, 7). At the same
time, the western usurper, Magnus Maximus, and his son, Flavius Victor, also
produced camp gate reverses (with stars) at the mints of Trier, Aries, Aquileia, and
Rome with the legend SPES ROMANORVM ("Hope of the Romans") (PL 33, 8). 17
Valentinian III was the final Roman emperor to use the camp gate reverse
type. He struck these at Rome between ad 425 and 435 with the reverse legends
a star or Christogram was a letter that denoted the officina of the mint in which it
was produced. Respective translations of the legends are "Public vows," "Victory
of the emperor," "Camp," "Victory of the camp," and "Rome." Although originally
referring generically to fortified military installations and Roman military
preparedness, the legends on the coins of Valentinian III demonstrate a more
fluid use of the gate iconography whereby some legends paired with the images
communicate victory and military preparedness, but with ROMA the gate acts as a
symbol of the city of Rome itself, Valentinian s capital. The Vandals imitated fourth
and fifth century camp gate reverse designs in North Africa with the legend SALVS
REI PVBLICE ("Health of the Republic").
Depictions of camp gates or city gates, influenced by late Roman types, also
appeared on Carolingian bullae and coins. An imperial bulla of Charlemagne (ad
800-814) has a facing portrait of the king on the obverse and a camp gate with two
towers surmounted by a cross on the reverse with the legend RENOVATIO ROMAN
IMP ("Renewal of the Roman Empire") with ROMA in the exergue below the gate.18
Evidently, the image was meant to evoke the city of Rome as it did on some of the
coins of Valentinian III. Stylized camp gates or city gates appear on the reverses of

17 At Rome, the reverse type only appears in conjunction with obverses of Magnus

18 For an illustration, see Bandmann 2005: 91 (fig. 2.12).

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290 Nathan T. Elkins

Carolingian coins, such as on the den

Bald (ad 840-877) from the mint at O
the eastern Mediterranean, Byzantine
thirteenth and fourteenth centuries
hyperpera for Michael VIII, Michael
V that showed a hexagonal circuit of
Theotokos (PI. 33, 12).
The origin of camp gate/city gate
in turn inspired Carolingian coin
iconography of thirteenth- and four
the Roman provincial coinage in the
first introduced the iconography to
Representations of camps or cities
imperial coinage until the late third
Tusculum and its circuit of walls an
Servius Rufus in 41 bc at the mint in
Emerita in Spain depicted an isometr
of a city gate was depicted on denarii
the Servian Wall as a backdrop for an
In the provinces, Dium in Macedonia
an isometric view of a hexagonal circu
of Augustus.19 Coins struck in hono
Germanica in Bithynia in c. ad 20 de
14). Rhescuporis II, a Bosporan client
that depict a city gate surmounted b
the left. The reverse design was repe
reign of Hadrian, Bizya in Thrace struc
towers and surmounted by a quadriga
Under the Antonines, city gate des
of Thrace. The proliferation o
been a result of the widespread constru
of Antoninus Pius, for example, fortifi
Traiana, Marcianopolis (in nearby Mo
fortified Augusta Traiana and numbe
obverse of Poseidon from Bizya may
continues the reverse depiction initi

19 These coins have often been attributed

Dium, see RPC 1 1530, discussed on pp. 2
20 See Mihailov 1961; Sharankov 2011:
21 The Antonine date is suggested by th
Heuchert for the planned volume of C. H
Coinage IV.

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Provincial Origins of Camp Gate and Baldachin Iconography 291

Marcus Aurelius, Augusta Traiana began to strike coins; one reverse type shows a
city gate flanked by two towers and surmounted by a third tower. Other types have
the addition of a river god reclining in front of the city gate. Both variants were
used through the reign of Caracalla when the coinage of Augusta Traiana ceased
(PL 34, 16 shows the variant without the river god). Under Commodus, Anchialus
began to strike coins that showed a city gate flanked by towers and surmounted by
a gallery of arches (PL 34, 17 depicts an example struck under Septimius Severus).
Anchialus continued the reverse type through the reign of Gordian III when it
stopped minting coins. Hadrianopolis, which had produced a local coinage since
the reign of Antoninus Pius, struck coins with reverses of a city gate flanked by two
towers in the reign of Gordian III. lhe images of the gates from Bizya, Augusta
Traiana, and Anchialus are distinctive: the quadriga atop the gate at Bizya, the
three towers at Augusta Traiana, and the gallery of arches at Anchialus. In each
case, the gate served as a symbol of the city itself and, as is so often the case with
provincial coin iconography, evoked civic pride and identity.22
Soon after city iconography became popular on the coins of Antonine Thrace,
it began to spread to neighboring regions. Philippi in Macedonia struck coins in
the reign of Marcus Aurelius that depicted a goddess standing between two towers
with a row of battlements in the background. City types also became prevalent on
the coins of cities in Moesia Inferior and Bithynia. In Moesia Inferior, Nicopolis
ad Istrum and Marcianopolis both minted coins with city gate reverses. Nicopolis s
first city gate type was minted in the reigns of Macrinus and Diadumenian; the
coins showed a city gate flanked by two towers and surmounted by a third tower,
imitating the coins from Augusta Traiana. In the reign of Gordian III, Nicopolis
struck coins with reverses that depicted a simplified city gate flanked by two towers.
At Maricanopolis, city reverses were first deployed in the reign of Gordian III.
Some were simple frontal views of city gates with two towers, while others showed
a circular circuit of walls and towers viewed from a three-quarter aerial perspective
(PL 34, 18). Inside of the circuit, a temple contains a bust of Serapls. In Bithynia,
Nicaea depicted a view of the city on the coins of several emperors beginning in
the reigns of Macrinus and Diadumenian (PL 34, 19). The Nicaean reverse types
are distinctive as they show an isometric view of an octagonal circuit of walls and
towers, rather than the more circular circuit depicted on Marcianopoliss coins.
This Nicaean rendering is virtually identical to those on the small coins of Dium
under Augustus. Coins of Severus Alexander from Nicaea depict Serapis standing
behind a partial circuit of walls, or perhaps a fence (PL, 35, 20). The last time that
Nicaea deployed the isometric view of the city on its coins was on coins of the
usurper Quietus in ad 261 (PL 35, 21). Also in Bithynia, Prusias ad Hypium struck
a type that depicted a city a gate flanked by two towers in the reign of Gallienus.
It is similar to the types from Anchialus in the presence of a gallery of arches

22 On the localized and civic character of Roman provincial coin iconography, see gener-
ally Harl 1987; Butcher 1988: 44-59 et passim ; Howgego, Heuchert, and Burnett 2005.

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292 Nathan T. Elkins

above the gateway. A provincial cit

Cilicia where reverses show Tyche s
and wall in the background, perhaps
representations on coins of Augusta
Although there were a few earlier
or circuits of walls and towers only
century ad after which the iconogra
Inferior and Bithynia. The fact tha
paying attention to the coins of ne
universal format of a gate flanked b
elements, such as the gallery of ar
types of Prusias ad Hypium. Rare "m
in Thrace also demonstrate the influ
(PL 35, 22). The reverses depict an
and towers enclosing buildings. The
to have been inspired by the octago
medallions retained Bizyas trademar
upon a gallery of arches which had be
at Anchialus. The city gate and city
Nicaea in Bithynia are testaments to
copied iconographie elements from
their own needs. But how did this r
and long lasting design in late Roma
The case of the camp gates/city vi
conditions under which late Roman
iconographie tradition of city gate a
of cities in Thrace, Moesia, and Bith
the closure of the provincial mints
deployed on imperial mints in nort
tetrarchie city view/camp view types
Nicomedia, and Heraclea in c. ad 29
established Nicomedia as his capital
10). The production of the types at
and immediate sphere of influence,
confirms the importance of the imp
coin types.24 One may envisage Dioc

23 Many other cities in Thrace and A

catalogues as arches or city gates. Thes
tend to highlight sculptural elements a
These more ambiguous representations a
24 The influence that the emperor had
subject. It is not suggested here that the e
the specific iconographie content on coin

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Provincial Origins of Camp Gate and Baldachin Iconography 293

to the mint that coins be struck to celebrate the S^rmatian victory and the
martial prowess of the tetrarchs. The way this was accomplished was through the
depiction of a fortified camp or city, a motif that had been commonly used on
local coins in the region just decades before the imperial mints of the tetrarchy
were established there. The three-quarter aerial view of a fortified city had been
used at Marcianopolis in Moesia Inferior and Nicaea in Bithynia. Many of the
tetrarchie types with an isometric view depict the camp or city in a polygonal
fashion as had the provincial coins of Nicaea. Nicomedia is less than 100 km from
Nicaea and so the inhabitants of the city - and its die engravers - would have
known Nicaeas local coinage. In fact, before the tetrarchy, Nicaea and Nicomedia
had competed for titular primacy in Bithynia; their local coinages were a vehicle
for this competition and suggest that the rival city was an intended audience of
the coinage.25 Some of the tetrarchie die engravers may have even been of the
same generation as those who cut dies for the provincial cities. The iconography
was known to local inhabitants and artisans in the region, who drew upon this
tradition of local representation when formulating the camp gate/city view type
for Diocletian's imperial coinage. The inspiration for the transition to the frontal
view of a camp or city gate at Nicomedia could have derived from any number of
local mints that had operated in the region. Both the three-quarter aerial view and
the view of the two-dimensional façade quickly spread to imperial mints across
the Roman Empire as a requisite of a uniform empire-wide currency was also a
uniform iconography. The representation of the city gate /camp gate façades thus
became a quintessential part of imperial iconography that lasted well into Late
Antiquity and early medieval Europe.
While localized numismatic iconography in the Balkans and northwestern
Asia Minor influenced the camp and city iconography on late imperial and
early medieval coins, it must be acknowledged that three-quarter aerial views
of cities and city gates are common on both late Roman maps and mosaics. The
Peutinger Map, for example, probably based on a mid-fourth-century archetype,
depicts towns as two-towered city gates resembling the fourth- and fifth-century
ad examples discussed here. Important settlements are indicated by a three-
dimensional rendition of the circuit of walls as on the coins of Marcianopolis,
Nicaea, or the tetrarchie argentei.26 The sixth-century Memphis and Alexandria
mosaic from Gerasa also depicts the cities in a similar way (Fig. 3, below).
Isometric and aerial view renditions of architecture in particular demonstrate a
link between numismatic iconography and map iconography,27 although in the

logical to presume that either the emperor or his agents would have requested coin designs
that celebrated specific events or imperial values.
25 e.g. Burrell 2004: 147-165 et passim.
26 Some discussion of the Peutinger Map and its iconography can be found in Dilke 1985:
112-120 and Dilke 1987: 238242.
27 Dilke 1985: 146-147.

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294 Nathan T. Elkins

Figure 3. The Memphis and Alexandria M

British School Excavations at Ge

instance of city and camp gate depict

to whether the iconography develope
numismatic record is more complete,
will be skewed towards Late Antiquity
The Provincial Origins of Late Imperial Baldachin Types

The transference of a local numismatic representation to the more widely

circulated imperial medium is also evident further east. Constantius II struck silver
miliarenses that depicted two emperors standing beneath an arch supported by two
spirally-fluted columns and accompanied by the legend FELICITAS ROMANORVM
("Prosperity of the Romans"). These images were first produced at the imperial
mint of Antioch ( c . ad 347-355) (PL 35, 23), and later spread westward to the
mints of Nicomedia and Sirmium (c. ad 351-355)» and Aquileia (c. ad 352-
355). The reverse design was paired with obverse portraits of Constantius II or
Constantius Gallus, except at Antioch where combinations with an obverse type
of Constantius Gallus have yet to be discovered. Antioch also issued miliarenses
(c. ad 347-355) with obverses of both individuals and a reverse that depicts the
same architectural framework enclosing a scene of Victory presenting a wreath
and palm to the emperor; the accompanying legend is VICTORIA ROMANORVM.
Antioch served at this time as Constantius's base of operations against the
Sasanian Persians. Between ad 355 and 361, the design was paired with obverses

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Provincial Origins of Camp Gate and Baldachin Iconography 295

of Constantius II or Julian Caesar. After Julian became emperor in ad 361, the

reverse design continued to be deployed at Antioch until his death in ad 363.
From ad 363 to 364, Jovian struck miliarenses here that showed him standing
beneath arch supported by two vertically fluted columns with the legend GLORIA
ROMANORVM. The emperors of the Valentinian Dynasty also deployed a reverse
type, with the legend GLORIA ROMANORVM, on their silver coins that showed the
emperors standing beneath an arch supported by two spirally-fluted columns at
the imperial mints of Antioch (ad 364-375) and Constantinople in (ad 364-367).
Images of the emperor or some deity below an arched baldachin supported
by two columns first appeared on the imperial coinage of Antoninus Pius. On all
of his gold, silver, and bronze denominations he struck coins that show a statue of
a male figure standing on a base that is flanked by two columns that support an
arch. Some types appear to show four columns (two in the foreground and two in
the background). Star-like cusps appear on the edges of the canopy to evoke the
"arch of heaven" and underscore the divine qualities of the deity that it enclosed.28
Commodus produced a similar type on his gold, silver, and bronze coins that
showed a figure of Janus standing beneath an arch supported by two columns.
Commodus famously renamed months in his own honor (SHA, Commodus 11.8)
and the appearance of Janus on the coins may have alluded to this practice.29 The
4 arch of heaven" below which Janus stands is wholly appropriate for the cosmic
divinity.30 Constantine struck silver miliarenses that showed the emperor and his
sons, holding scepters and globes, standing beneath an arch supported by two
columns. The images were accompanied by the legend FELICITAS ROMANORVM.
Types at the imperial mints of Rome, Nicomedia, and Cyzicus showed the emperor
and three sons; Sirmium, Thessalonica, Heraclea, and Nicomedia again produced
types showing the emperor with only two sons. Although the iconography of these
earlier types is similar to the architectural image of the arch supported by two
spirally-fluted columns on the later coins of Constantius II and the Valentinian
Dynasty, especially since the Constantinian types used the same legend as the
later types of Constantius II, none of the earlier types depicted the spirally-fluted
columns. For that one must look to the provinces.
The first spirally- fluted baldachin type of Constantius II appeared at Antioch
(PL 35, 23) which lay in a region accustomed to the decorative use of spirally-

28 Thomas 2007: 66. Hills discussion of the types should be disregarded. Although the
figure is male, he believed the figure on the denarii to be Spes Vetus and that the arched
structure was shorthand for the small tholos of Spes Vetus built in the fifth century bc (Hill
1989: 17). He then interpreted the figure on the bronze types as the genius of the Senate and
supposed that the coins evoked a literal shrine to the Senates genius somewhere in Rome,
perhaps in the Senate House (Hill 1989: 39). There are no significant differences in the
iconography of this type on the precious metal and bronze types and there is no reason to
suppose the edifice evoked a tangible monument.
29 LIMCV. 1, 1981: 621, s.v. Ianus (Simon); BMCRE IV: clxiii.
30 Thomas 2007: 66.

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296 Nathan T. Elkins

fluted columns. Such columns were

arts of Asia Minor and Syria. Spirall
typically used to accentuate a figure
canopy, or arcuated lintel.31 They we
the second and third centuries, which
The local coinage of Asia Minor and
spirally-fluted columns, with a deity
structure did not possess such colum
The fact that the first imperial coin
appeared at Antioch
bey is significant
were commonplace in the artistic tr
Laodicea ad Mare had depicted a bust
spirally-fluted columns in the reign
Septimius Severus, Laodicea produc
Julia Domna in place of Tyche and
25). The architectural feature on the
is identical to those struck at Antioc
later. As Laodicea ad Mare is only 80 k
of Antioch would have been familiar
type from Laodicea ad Mare provides
miliarenses of Constantius II and the
Antioch before the design spread to o

The case studies of the provincial origins of late Roman camp gate iconograph
and the baldachin types provide the opportunity to consider the practicalities of
how late Roman art was made in a changing society. The first consideration is th
imperial presence. Since the third century, the political importance of the city o
Rome had diminished as the "soldier emperors" reigned in the field and on th
frontier. The stability temporarily reestablished by Diocletian and the tetrarchy
saw the foundation of imperial residences in the provinces. Rome lost its place a
capital of the Roman Empire when Constantine founded Constantinople. These
political changes had ramifications for the making of art as state-sanctioned art
emanated from the emperor and his government. While it may be debated ho
much of a personal role an individual emperor played in the design and sculptura
program of a monument or building complex, or the iconographie program on
his coinage, state- sanctioned art was an essential part of an emperors ideologica
program and the decision to make it originated with him or agents in his court
who likely formulated much of the political or ideological content. The permanen

31 Chapot 1907; Brown 1942.

32 e.g. Koch and Sichtermann 1982: 76-80 on Säulensarkophage.
33 Drew-Bear 1974: 32-35.

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Provincial Origins of Camp Gate and Baldachin Iconography 297

shift of the imperial presence from Rome to the provinces had a practical effect on
the circumstances under which late Roman art could be made. No longer could
the imperial court reach out to artisans who were accustomed to cutting large
classicizing marble reliefs for triumphal arches that straddled the Sacra Via or die
cutters in the Roman mint who had produced centuries of naturalistic designs
and portraits on the large imperial sestertii. Now they commissioned public works
and portraits in their new capitals using artisans that worked in their own local
traditions; they ordered new coin types at the mint in their capital that would have
employed die cutters who grew up in a visual culture greatly influenced by the
locally produced coinage of previous decades. It is therefore natural that regional
styles and iconography would have been injected into this new late imperial art.
While the shift of imperial power to provincial cities raised provincial art to
the level of state-sanctioned imperial art, it was the system of late imperial mints
that disseminated regional modes of representation across the empire making
such iconography ubiquitous in late Roman art. During the "third century crisis,"
the Roman Empire became increasingly reliant on branches of the imperial
mint established in the provinces to provide military pay. By the end of the third
century, the debased antoniniani struck at the imperial mints drove the provincial
mints to close. Under the tetrarchy a network of imperial mints stretching from
London to Alexandria was put into place and remained in place, with some
variation, through the fourth century. As new coin types were introduced at mints
in the emperor s sphere of direct control, the types quickly spread to other imperial
mints as consistency in weight, diameter, and iconography were key to a successful
universal coinage.
Roman coinage was an important purveyor of state-sanctioned art. More
often than one could visit temples, amble through building complexes, or study
relief sculpture, individuals across the Roman Empire handled coinage on a daily
basis. Clearly, the late Roman coinage provides a unique case where one can
explore the practical mechanisms and considerations under which late Roman art
developed as the corpus of iconographie types, chronologies, and historical and
production contexts are well understood. Nonetheless, this way of examining the
provincial origins of certain types of late Roman numismatic iconography may
be applicable to other media. For instance, to what degree is the departure from
verism or naturalism and the trend towards abstraction in imperial portraiture in
the third and fourth centuries ad attributable to presence of the imperial court
on the frontier and in the provinces where the emperor had limited access to
sculptors from the center of the empire? And how much of the shift is, as is often
argued, truly ideological?
Bianchi Bandinelli s assertion that provincial artistic traditions had a greater
voice in the making of late Roman art is vindicated, even though he perhaps
overstated his case. It may not have been the elevation in the standing of provincial
citizens perse that promoted provincial influence in late imperial art. Rather, it was

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298 Nathan T. Elkins

the practicalities of making imperia

had shifted to the provinces that le
numismatic iconography.
List of Illustrations

Plate 33

1. Silver argenteus of Constantius I, struck at Heraclea. Yale University Art Gallery,

2008.217.20, The Mark Deitz, Class of 1969, Collection of Ancient Coins.
Gift of Paula Dietz.
2. Silver argenteus of Diocletian, struck at Nicomedia. American Numismatic So-
ciety, 1944.100.5496.
3. Gold aureus of Constantius I, struck at Rome. Numismatica Ars Classica 52 (7
October 2009), no. 589.
4. Argentiferous bronze nummus of Licinius I, struck at Heraclea. Yale University
Art Gallery, 2001.87.17771.
5. Argentiferous bronze nummus of Constantine II, struck at Heraclea. Yale Uni-
versity Art Gallery, 2001.87.8260.
6. Argentiferous bronze nummus of Constantine I, struck at Alexandria. Yale Uni-
versity Art Gallery, 2007.182.459, The Ernest Collection, in memory of Is-
rael Myers.
7. Bronze nummus of Theodosius I, struck at the Thessalonica. Yale University Art
Gallery, 2001.87.19211.
8. Bronze nummus of Flavius Victor, struck at Aquileia. Yale University Art Gal-
lery, 2001.87.19520.
9. Bronze nummus of Valentinian III, struck at Rome. Yale University Art Gallery,
10. Silver denier of Louis I, struck at Orleans. Yale University Art Gallery,
11. Silver denier of Charles the Bald, struck at Orleans. Yale University Art Gallery,
12. Gold hyperperon nomisma of Andronicus II and Michael IX, struck at Con-
stantinople. Yale University Art Gallery, 2001.87.880.
13. Gold aureus of L. Servius Rufus, struck at Rome. © Trustees of the British

Plate 34

14. Bronze coin of Germanicus, struck at Caesarea Germanica. American Numis-

matic Society, 1944.100.41992.
15. Bronze coin of Hadrian, struck at Bizya. Yale University Art Gallery,
2009.110.19, Ruth Elizabeth White Fund, with the assistance of Ben Lee

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Provincial Origins of Camp Gate and Baldachin Iconography 299

16. Bronze coin of Caracalla, struck at Augusta Traiana. Yale University Art Gal-
lery, 2004.6.928.
17. Bronze coin of Septimius Severus, struck at Anchialus. Yale University Art
Gallery, 2004.6.919.
18. Bronze coin of Gordian III, struck at Marcianopolis. Yale University Art Gal-
lery, TR2007.13938.805, promised gift of Ben Lee Damsky.
19. Bronze coin of Macrinus, struck at Nicaea. Yale University Art Gallery,

Plate 3 5

20. Bronze coin Severus Alexander, struck at Nicaea. Yale University Art Gallery,
TR2007. 13938.793, promised gift of Ben Lee Damsky.
21. Bronze coin of Quietus, struck at Nicaea. American Numismatic Society,
22. Bronze medallion of Philip I, struck at Bizya. American Numismatic Society,
23. Silver miliarensis of Constantius II, struck at Antioch. American Numismatic
Society, 1948.19.765.
24. Bronze coin of Commodus, struck at Laodicea ad Mare. American Numis-
matic Society, 1944.100.66395.
25. Bronze coin of Septimius Severus, struck at Laodicea ad Mare. Yale University
Art Gallery, 2001.87.10644.

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