Are there really genuine ancient coins?
This is a very common copper coin, 23 mm in diameter (between the sizes of a US nickel and quarter) of the Roman emperor Constantine the Great, who reigned 307 - 337 A.D, over 1600 years ago. For more commentary, click the image.
Oh, yes. The Greeks and Romans minted huge numbers of coins and many millions (really!) are still around in nice shape.
How old are they?
The Greeks and Romans minted coins hundreds of years before
Christ. The most common ancient coins are Roman coins minted in the
and fourth centuries AD (200 AD to 400 AD), so most ancient coins are
years old or older, and many are over 2000 years old. The very earliest
were struck about 600 BC.
What do they look like?
A typical Roman common copper coin is pictured above. Here are some other types. The next one is a common silver coin the size of a dime (19 mm diameter, a denarius), struck by a Roman emperor.
Emperor Septimius Severus, 193-211 A.D.
The legend (beginning at 6:30 on the obverse) gives his name "SEVERUS".
For the reverse and commentary, click the image.
To learn about reading legends, go to a page on legends.
Next is a small (15 mm) Greek silver coin (a drachm) of the type struck at the the city of Rhodes, minted in the second century BC.
The obverse shows the sun god, Helios. Do you see
rays streaming from his head?
The reverse shows a rose, the symbol of Rhodes, because of the pun Rhodes/rose.
The letters, in Greek, name the person (not a king) responsible for minting the coin.
Recent research suggests it was actually minted on the mainland in close imitation of the type usually minted on the island of Rhodes.
Show me more!
Gladly. There's lots more interesting stuff!
Material about buying
Material about moving up to "intermediate" from "beginner" and Roman coin educational links.
Originally posted 2/13/97. Revised, June 22, 2013.