2000 Years of Coins
This page is just beginning and will ultimately show a at least one coin from every half century, and covering over 2000 years. In addition to the coin we will include a relevant image.
The Lokrians who issued this coin were Greeks who fought with Leonidas at the Battle of Thermopylae (480 BCE), and with Sparta in the Peloponnesian War (431-404 BCE). This coin issued during the time when Macedonia was growing in power under King Philip II (359–336 BC) and subsequently his son Alexander III "the Great" (336-323). The detail from an oil painting, "Ajax and Cassandra", by Solomon Joseph Solomon, 1886, depicts the Abduction of Cassandra by Lokrian hero Ajax "the Lesser". In the Illiad, this Ajax was one of the great Greek heroes who led forty ships against Troy.
The Roman republic and Carthage fought three wars as the super-powers of the Mediterranean. The three Punic wars were fought over a century and resulted in the complete destruction of Carthage and lasting Roman dominance in the Mediterranean. The second Punic War known for Hannibals attacks on the Italian peninsula, crossing the Alps with elephants. This coin issued sometime after 211 BC during the Second Punic War and shown with a Map of Roman and Carthaginian territories at the start of this War. Map from 1911 by Shepherd via University of Texas Austin Map Collection.
This Bactrian Drachm was issued by Apollodotos, Bactrian King from sometime in the early second century B.C.E. It is shown with an axe head from the MET museum that is close to 2000 years older (ca. late 3rd–early 2nd millennium BCE)
from the Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex located in what would eventually become southern Bactria.
There was little peace in the last century of the Roman Republic. This coin issued after the Social Wars, the Civil Wars of Marius and Sulla, and in the third and last of the Mithridatic Wars which would conclude in 63 BC. Civil War would soon follow between Caesar and Pompey. This coin shown with a detail from a 2nd century C.E. mosaic "Poseidon’s Triumph and the Four Seasons" from the National Bardo Museum in
50 B.C.E. - 1 C.E.
January 10th, 49 BCE, Caesar crossed the Rubicon without relinquishing his troops in violation of Roman law. This attack on Rome was the beginning of Caesar's civil war between him and the allies of Pompey the Great that continued until 45 BCE when Caesar successfully took control. In 44 he was named dictator for life - which wasn't long when on the Ides of March he was murdered in a conspiracy led by the Cassius responsible for this coin. The painting, "César Franchit le Rubicon" (Caesar crosses the Rubicon), is the scene as imagined by Adolphe Yvon, and can be found in the Musée des Beaux-Arts d'Arras (Pas-de-Calais, France).
50 C.E. - 100 C.E.
Poppaea is depicted here on the reverse of a coin from Alexandria Egypt, issued by the Emperor Nero. She is implicated in the death of the philosopher Seneca and Nero's mother Agrippina the Younger. Nero reportedly kicked her when she was pregnant and she died in 65 AD a year or two after this coin was issued. The image is a detail of a painting from the workshop of Giulio Romano (Rome c. 1499-Mantua 1546), "Nero Playing while Rome Burns" c. 1536-9 Oil on panel in the Royal Collection Trust.
"Perfection has been attained! In the tranquil reign of Skandagupta, whose hall of audience is shaken by the wind caused by the falling down (in the act of performing obeisance) of the heads of a hundred kings; who is bom in the lineage of the Gupta; whose fame is spread far and wide; who excels all others in prosperity; who resembles (the god) Sakra : (and) who is the lord of a hundred kings - in the one hundredth year, increased by thirty and ten and one; the month Jyeshtha having arrived."
-Skandagupta (circa 455-467 C.E.) inscription on the Kahaum pillar (images public domain via wikipedia)
The Abbasid Caliphate (750–1258) was the third caliphate to succeed the Islamic prophet Muhammad. It was founded by his uncle and centered in what is today modern Baghdad. This gold coin is from the time of Abū ʿAbd Allāh Muḥammad ibn ʿAbd Allāh al-Manṣūr, the third Abbasid Caliph. The Image is from “Preparation of Medicine from Honey," translated and illustrated from Dioscorides by the Baghdad School a 12th century school of Islamic art from Baghdad that died out at the end of the Abbasid Caliphate (via Wikipedia). Baghdad became a center of science, culture and innovation during the period of the Abbasids.
Nasr ibn Ahmad was the ruler of Transoxiana and Khurasan and head of the Samanid dynasty from 914 to 943. He was the son of Ahmad ibn Isma’il.
Saladin and Guy of Lusignan after the Battle of Hattin in CE 1187, 1954, by Said Tahseen (1904-1985). Saladin was the founder of the Ayyubid dynasty and the first sultan of Syria and Egypt.
Queen Lilavati was the fourth women known to have ruled Sri Lanka in her own right. She held the throne 3 times between 1197 and 1212 CE. She rose to prominence as the Queen to King Parākramabāhu the Great who died in 1186 CE. The modern photo shows the ruins of the castle in Palonnaruwa. Photo by M. Lechanteur, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Muhammad bin Tughluq (1290 – 20 March 1351) was the eighteenth Sultan of Delhi. He reigned from February 1325 until his death in 1351. He was the eldest son of Ghiyath al-Din Tughluq, founder of the Tughlaq dynasty. He introduced this token currency in AH 730 after his failed attempt to shift the capital to Deogiri. There brass and copper coins were valued equally to gold and silver. This currency was disputed in trade and devalued quickly. The 19th century painting depicts the sultan in court. [Salar Jung Museum, Hyderabad]
Ferdinand II and Isabella of Spain, 1474-1504. The portraits are a pair showing Ferdinand II of Aragon (1452-1516) and his wife, Isabella I of Castile (1451-1504), King and Queen of Spain and parents of Catherine of Aragon (1485-1536). Public domain image via the Royal Trust Collection.
A coin of Akbar the Great (1556-1605) with picture of Akbar the great training and elephant. Miniature of the Mughal school via Wikipedia (Public Domain) from the State Museum of Berlin.
Louis XIII, King of France, by Philippe de Champaigne (1602–1674), oil on canvas 1635, Museo del Prado, public domain image modified via Wikipedia
Mughal Empire, Mirza Nur-ud-Din Muhammad Salim known by his imperial name Jahangir – literally “Conqueror of the World” he was the only surviving son of Akbar the Great.
Shah Jahan was the third son of Jahangir, and the fifth emperor of the Mughal Empire(C.E. 1628 - 1658). Under his emperorship, the Mughals reached the peak of their architectural achievements. He commissioned monuments that include the Red Fort, Shah Jahan Mosque and the Taj Mahal, where his favorite wife Mumtaz Mahal is entombed. Illustration by Payag of Shah Jahan on Horseback, Folio from the Shah Jahan Album ca. 1630, via the MET museum.
King George the III of Great Britain (1761-1820), France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, Duke of Brunswick and Lueneburg, Arch Treasurer and Elector of the Holy Roman Empire (Magnae Britanniae Franciae et Hiberniae Rex Fidei Defensor Brunsvicensis et Luneburgensis Dux Sacri Romani Imperii Archi Thesaurarius et Elector). 18th Century coronation portrait of King George III by Allan Ramsay, c.1761-62. Public domain image via the Royal Trust Collection.