Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2011

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Art & Art History

First Advisor

Diane Conlin

Second Advisor

J.P. Park

Third Advisor

Elspeth Dusinberre

Abstract

In the study of Roman numismatics, coins are either categorized as "imperial"--coins minted under the direct authority of the emperor--or "provincial"--coins minted by local authorities, who report to the emperor. Provincial coins are understood as a closer reflection of local attitudes than imperial coins minted throughout the empire and are frequently subject to a complex set of inquiries surrounding the issues of center and periphery. According to the scholarship, it is generally accepted that provincial coinage stops being produced after the reforms of Diocletian in 296 C.E. These assumptions are based on three major factors: the almost complete collapse of the civic mint system due to financial crisis during the 260s, the noted change in the execution of imperial authority under Constantine I, and the overall lack in variety the iconography of coins throughout the empire during the fourth century. All coins minted at this date are considered "imperial," or a complete reflection of the emperor's ideology.While these assumptions are in part true, they rely on a macro-scale interpretation of the material, which does not account for certain trends that may be found in the numismatic record. It is the goal of this thesis to critique the assumptions of the scholarship by examining coins from the Constantinian Dynasty (306-364 C.E.). By assessing how the notions of center and periphery have become more ambiguous during the third and fourth centuries, how variety continues to be manifested in the numismatic record, and how certain activities of the mints in Rome and Constantinople may indicate the persistence of modified civic traditions--this project aims to question the validity of the rigid binary system that categorizes coins as either "imperial" or "provincial."

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