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Ruler: Trajan, Emperor of Rome, A.D. 53–117, ruled 98–117
Mint: Rome

Sestertius of Trajan, Emperor of Rome from Rome



26.26 g, 6:00, 33 mm
Gift of Ben Lee Damsky

Trajan was fond of construction projects; he was said to have restored old monuments and to have added his name to them, as if he were their originator. In 103 he restored and expanded the grandstand of the Circus Maximus. This magnificent sestertius is one of the finest examples of the issue and shows precise details: the Arch of Titus looks down from the upper left, quadrigae (four-horse chariots) surmount the gates at either end of the grandstand, and metae (turning posts) are seen at either end of the racecourse, which is being run by a galloping figure. The large, gabled structure surmounted by the bust of Sol reflects his status as the major god honored here.

Made in Rome, Italy
On view
2nd century A.D.

Hess–Leu, Zurich, April 16, 1964, cat. 24, lot 299. Dr. Meyer, Cologne, Germany, to 1988; Münz Zentrum 64, Cologne, Germany, April 15, 1988, Lot 210; Ben Lee Damsky, 1988–2018; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.


“Acquisitions July 1, 2017–June 30, 2018,” (accessed December 1, 2018).

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.