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Abbreviations on a Roman Coin of Vespasian


Abbreviations on a Roman Coin of Vespasian
Vespasian Coin

Vespasian Coin

© Trustees of the British Museum, produced by Natalia Bauer for the Portable Antiquities Scheme.

Roman Abbreviations - Numismatics

Imperial coins can be dated based on the offices listed on the face of the coins. Note the following letters on this coin minted under Vespasian:
Some of these letters may not have been clear, especially the U and G, but there is a standard format which makes it clear that these letters are not really V and C.
  • The first three letters are IMP for Imperator, the imperial title.
  • The next abbreviated word is CAES for Caesar.
  • Following Caesar is the emperor's name Vespasian -- without the -us nominative ending.
  • Following Vespasian is the title AUG (not AVC) for Augustus.
  • PM stands for Pontifex Maximus.
  • TRPP refers to tribunician power. Since this power was renewed annually, a numeral usually followed, but not here.
  • The next title is Pater patriae or PP. Late in Domitian's reign, PP came to be positioned at the end of the name, but this coin is still from Domitian's father's period, so it is earlier.
  • Next comes one of the abbreviations for consul (COS), followed by the number of the consulship; here, 3.

Since the third consulship of Vespasian began in January 71, that should be the date of this coin.

Source: JE Sandys Latin Epigraphy, 1927.

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