Late Roman bronze coins are a very common archaeological artifact. Their iconography contains many details which make even worn specimens easy to identify.
Iconography is the study of the content of images. The identification, description, and interpretation of their content: the way the subjects are depicted, the particular compositions and details used to do so, and other elements that are distinct from artistic style. Objects bearing images, such as coins, lend themselves to iconographical study within a socio-historical context and can provide valuable understanding of the cultures from which they came.
Over the course of a few decades in the 4th century AD, a series of profound changes took place in the Roman Empire. Arguably, these shifts in one of the greatest Empires in human history changed the destiny of Europe and are still felt to this day.
Roman coinage of the fourth century offers a very tangible testimony to this era. Millions of bronze coins were struck in an area extending from modern Britain to Egypt. The iconography present in these modest remnants of a distant past provides a fascinating insight into the realities, hopes and desires not only of the common people, but also of those who ruled over them.