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Coin (sestertius) - Sestertius of Caracalla

Sestertius of Caracalla

  • Object:

    Coin (sestertius)

  • Place of origin:

    Roman (made)

  • Date:

    213 AD (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:


  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This is a sestertius of Caracalla, who was Emperor from 211-217. This sestertius - a large brass coin - depicts Marcus Aurelius, who ruled the Empire together with Lucius Verus from 161 to 180.
The brass sestertius valued a quarter of a denarius. It typically weighs in the region of 25 to 28 grammes, is around 32-34 mm in diameter and ca. 4mm thick. The denarius was a small silver coin and the principal silver coin issued in the ancient Roman currency system from the late 3rd century BC until the early 3rd century AD.

The use of the portrait is the most persistent and usually the most striking feature of coins of the Roman Empire. Particularly during the first three centuries of the Empire's existence (27 BC-AD 284) images of historically recorded (and some unrecorded) people appear on the majority of coins.
Roman coins acted as a vehicle for the quick and wide-reaching spread of propagandic images of Imperial power, at the centre of which was the embodiment of Rome and all that its Empire stood for, the Emperor himself. Roman coins survive in very large numbers and are frequently found right across Europe, reaching the furthest corners of the Empire.

Physical description

This coin depicts on obverse: Inscription. Head of Marcus Aurelius, laureate to right. Border of dots.
Reverse: Inscription. Providence standing holding a sceptre and a short wand. Border of dots.

Place of Origin

Roman (made)


213 AD (made)



Materials and Techniques


Marks and inscriptions


'PROVIDENTIAE DEORUM [around] S C [in field]'


Diameter: 3.17 cm, Weight: 22.73 g

Object history note

From the Salting bequest.

Descriptive line

Coin (sestertius) of Caracalla, brass, head of Marcus Aurelius / Providence, Roman, 213 AD

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

'Salting Bequest (A. 70 to A. 1029-1910) / Murray Bequest (A. 1030 to A. 1096-1910)'. In: List of Works of Art Acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum (Department of Architecture and Sculpture). London: Printed under the Authority of his Majesty's Stationery Office, by Eyre and Spottiswoode, Limited, East Harding Street, EC, p. 119



Subjects depicted

Sceptre; Globe


Coins & Medals; Sculpture


Sculpture Collection

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