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    Description

    View of Circus Maximus

    Caracalla (AD 198-217). Orichalcum sestertius (30mm, 23.72 gm, 12h). Rome, AD 213. M AVREL ANTONINVS PIVS AVG BRIT, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust of Caracalla right / P M TR P XVI IMP II, overhead view of the Circus Maximus, with arcade of arches in foreground terminating in large arch on right, stadium galleries beyond packed with spectators, four quadrigae racing around track; large spina (Egyptian obelisk) within; COS IIII P P/S C in two lines in exergue. RIC III 500a. Banti 46. BMCRE 251. Cohen 236. Rare. Dark brown patina. Very Fine.

    Ex Martin Armstrong Collection (CNG E-Auction 271, 11 January 2012), lot 85.

    Originally a pastoral valley between Rome's Aventine and Palatine Hills, the Circus Maximus became a racetrack and staging ground for public spectacles soon after Rome's founding circa 753 BC. A long oval track evolved, wide enough to accommodate four quadrigas running abreast. By the third century BC the central spina was in place, a set of starting gates had been added and wooden bleachers were erected partially around its 4,400-foot circuit. Julius Caesar rebuilt the lower tiers in stone and added an upper deck in wood. Pliny claimed the Circus could now accommodate 250,000 spectators but modern estimates top out at 150,000. At great expense, Augustus brought a towering Egyptian obelisk from Hieropolis and placed it at the center of the spina; he also added a high dais called a pulvinar for where the Imperial family could view the proceedings. A veritable city grew up around the Circus, including food stalls, shops, stables and housing; however the ramshackle wooden bleachers continued to represent a fire hazard until Trajan rebuilt the whole structure in stone circa AD 105-110. This remarkable coin, struck circa AD 213, shows the Circus in its final form, with an extensive rebuilding of the starting gate area undertaken in Caracalla's reign.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    September, 2012
    6th-11th Thursday-Tuesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 3
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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