Rare Coin Bearing Likeness of Nero Found in Jerusalem
A coin bearing the
image of the Roman Emperor Nero is worth it weight in gold – and more – as its
certain provenance provides rare insight into the distribution of and cultural
value attached to the aureus. The
discovery was made by archaeologists from the University of North Carolina at
Charlotte in excavations on Mount Zion in Jerusalem.
The coin bears the
portrait of Nero as Caesar, the inscription indicating the aureus was struck in
56, more than a decade before Nero’s suicide in 68 and the razing of Jerusalem by
the Romans in 70, and was found in the ruins of what had been a large villa.
The UNC researchers suggest that the coin had been hidden, and well, not only
on account of its transactional use but because its owners ascribed a value to
a memento of Nero’s notorious reputation.
to historical accounts, Nero was responsible for the deaths of his wives
Octavia and Poppaea; his mother, Agrippina the Younger; his stepbrother,
Britannicus; and his mentor Seneca; presiding over the arson of Rome in 64 and then shifting the blame to the Christians (including Saints Peter and Paul).
Nonetheless the coin collectors were not the only people to have been
fascinated with Nero, who has been memorialized by many in the millennia
since his famous last words, ““Qualis
artifex peer (What an artist perishes with me).”