Object of the month – Aureus of Nero
The coin was minted by the infamous emperor Nero (54–68 AD), the last member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. It was under his rule in 64 AD that two thirds of Rome were engulfed by the flames burning for 9 days.
The reconstruction of the city, the military campaigns in the East and the extravagant lifestyle of the emperor were all extremely costly, therefore Nero turned to a drastic, but well-known measure. He decreased the weight of the gold coin by 2% to 1/96 Roman pound (7.39 g) and the weight of the denarius to 1/45 pound (3.4 g), as well as its silver content to 93.5%. The aureus in the Coin Cabinet of the Eötvös Loránd University was minted after the monetary reform according to the new, reduced standard. This monetary measure was also mentioned by the contemporary Pliny the Elder, who met his fate at another infamous event, the eruption of the Vesuvius in 79 AD that destroyed the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum.
Written by: Dr. Lajos Juhász
ELTE Institute of Archaeological Sciences