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Roman Bronze Medallion of Constantine the Great
- This exceptionally rare Roman bronze medallion hails from the reign of Constantine the Great
- The coin was minted during a transformative period in Roman history, shaping the future
- It depicts Constantine the Great on the obverse and a formidable warship on the reverse
- Victory stands on the prow of the ship
- Get complete item description here
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The bronze medallion depicts Constantine, in all his imperial glory, on the obverse. Flanked by the word CONSTANTI-NOPOLIS, the emperor faces to the left wearing a pearl necklace and laureate. His head is crowned with a crested helmet, underscoring his prowess as a formidable military leader. A scepter rests behind his back. The medallion's reverse depicts a powerful image of a large warship with a steersman and five rowers. On the prow of the boat, the deified Victory stands triumphant, grasping a wreath in her right hand and a palm over her left shoulder. The words V-IC-TORIA AVG mark the reverse, with AVG indicating that the obverse included a thin silver plate applied to the central bronze flan.
The 4th century's so-called "Constantinian shift" ushered in a new era of Roman prosperity and transformed the course of history. In 313, Constantine and Licinius signed the Edict of Milan, which legalized Christianity throughout the entirety of the Roman Empire. The teamwork between the two emperors, however, was short-lived. The Battle of Hellespont in 324 CE saw the clash of Constantine and his eldest son Crispus against Licinius, in an effort to gain total control of a unified empire. Following Constantine's watershed victory, he looked to relocate the capital, hoping to find a location closer to both the Danube and Euphrates frontiers and more well-defended.
In 330 CE, the emperor consecrated Constantinople, now modern-day Istanbul, as the new capital of the ever-powerful Roman Empire. The massive building campaign on which he embarked included the Great Palace, the Augustaeum public square, the Hippodrome for chariot races, the Baths of Zeuxippus and the famed Constantinian Wall, which would position the capital as the most powerful city in the world for nearly a millennia. This important bronze medallion, a credit to the leader's successes in warfare and rulership, was minted during the earliest years of the city, which would never be conquered until the arrival of Mehmed the Conqueror in 1453. Monumental in its historical importance and rarity, there are only four known examples of this coin in the world.
This bronze medallion was previously held in the collection of the Minnesota Marine Art Museum.
Minted 327-328 CE
Alföldi, A. "On the Foundation of Constantinople: A Few Notes." In The Journal of Roman Studies, 1947, Vol. 37, Parts 1 and 2 (1947), pp. 10-16. Illustrated.
Froehner, W. "Choix de monnaies anciennes." In Annuaire de la Société française de numismatique, 1869.
Gnecchi, Francesco. I Medaglioni Romani. 2. Vol. 2. U. Hoepli, 1912.