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Research Coins: Feature Auction


The Via Traiana

CNG 111, Lot: 686. Estimate $3000.
Sold for $7000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Trajan. AD 98-117. AV Aureus (19mm, 7.01 g, 6h). Rome mint. Struck circa AD 112-113. IMP TRAIANO AVG GER DAC P M TR P COS VI P P, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right / S • P • Q • R • OPTIMO PRINCIPI, VIA • TRAIANA in exergue, Woman (Via Traiana) bare to waist, reclining left, head turned back to right, holding wheel with six spokes on right knee and resting left arm on rocks, branch in left hand. RIC II 266 var. (bust type); Beckmann, Early, Group III, 4 (dies a30/V2); Woytek 397f1 (same rev. die as illustration); Strack 179β; Calicó 1129 (same dies as illustration); BMCRE 484 (same rev. die); BN 656 (same dies); Biaggi 549 (same rev. die); Jameson –; Mazzini 647 var. (wheel with eight spokes). Near EF, small flan flaw on obverse, repair in field on reverse, some hairlines, traces of deposits.

At 205 miles long, and running from Brindisium to Beneventum, the via Traiana was one of the great super highways of the Roman empire, replacing the via Appia which had been built in 312 BC as the principal route between southern Italy and beyond. Despite being two miles longer than the Appian way, the via Traiana was substantially less arduous to traverse and, according to Strabo, cut an entire day off the journey. One of a number of large municipal projects undertaken by Trajan during his rule, and paid for at the emperor’s own expense, the construction of this super highway took place between AD 109 and 113 and was most likely undertaken by the Roman legions in what was a period of relative peace within the empire. As the adage goes, “all roads lead to Rome”, and this was no exaggeration. At the peak of the empire the road system stretched for more than 250,000 miles with 29 of these great highways radiating from the capital. They proved vital for the infrastructure of the empire, allowing for the high-speed transport of trade and communications as well as armies, officials and civilians. Such was the success and durability of these roads that a substantial number survived well into the modern day, with many still being used as the basis for modern transportation links today.