Roman Provincial Imperial Portraiture
This research focuses on imperial portraits on bronze coins produced in the Roman provinces of Greece, Bithynia & Pontus, and Asia from 235-270 CE. The 3rd century had a high turnover of emperors and was just before an overhaul of the currency system so there’s a large volume of comparable coins being produced, but within the outlying territories not always a lot of consistency. We analyze how provincial coinage varies within cities and provinces and why artists diverged from the official coins minted in Rome. The differences lie not in a lack of talent necessarily, but in a diminishing link between Rome and its provinces. Visits from emperors were few and far between and many die creators had never seen the various rulers, basing portraits on images used for predecessors of similar age or family members instead. Feeling abandoned by Rome during the Gothic invasions, the unprotected provincial artists may have begun to avoid subscribing to the official portraitures and intentionally opted to be inaccurate as a subtle insult to the imperial family or as a means of constructing a sense of regional pride.
Department of Art History
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