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Research Project

The Beginnings of Empire: Visualising Rome in the Republican Provinces, c. 168-27 BC.

By 168 BC Rome had considerable provincial holdings in both the East and West of the Mediterranean, but would not receive its first emperor until c. 27 BC. Without this focal point, how was Roman control understood and visualised in the areas which fell under its control? How did Rome itself represent its power? In this project I will focus on the imagery and ideology carried on coinage struck outside Rome in this period by cities, tribes and Roman officials, in order to better understand how Roman domination was represented, negotiated, ritualised or rejected. Although today many see money as a largely neutral and impersonal medium of exchange, anthropological research has demonstrated its important role within cultural, political and social contexts, and its significance as a medium of commensuration between different value systems. The numerous coinages which survive from the Republican period present a unique and well documented source which allows us to better understand how Rome transformed from a Republic into an Empire. The information provided by Republican provincial coins shall be considered in conjunction with textual and archaeological evidence in order to assess to what extent the creation of Augustus as emperor was a transformative moment in the reception of Roman power in the provinces, or whether many of the reception mechanisms we classify as ‘imperial’ were already developed in the Republican period.