Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Coin of Trajan Decius - Dacia and the Dragon Standard

This coin is a silver Antoninianus of Trajan Decius.

Obverse: Draped bust of Trajan Decius facing right with radiate crown.

Reverse: Personification of Dacia standing left holding standard with a dragon's head.
Inscription: DACIA

The Roman province of Dacia, now modern day Romania, was a Roman province first conquered by Trajan and it became a large and important province with a population between 650,000 to 1,200,000. Dacia was close to Trajan Decius' home province of Pannonia and and important supplier of grain, ore and troops to the Roman Empire.

The legions and auxiliaries from Dacia went into battle bearing dragon standards, as depicted on this coin.

This draco standard was later adapted by other elements of the Roman legions. The standard was continued and carried into battle by Charlemagne and even made an appearance at the Battle of Hastings, and potentially carries on in the United Kingdom today in the representation of the dragon on the flag of Wales.

Numismatically, the draco standard again makes an appearance on money in the modern day, on a modern Romanian banknote, more than 1800 years after its appearance on a Roman coin celebrating the ancient province that became Romania:

Many Roman symbols have enduring resonances that continue through the present day, and the dragon standard is one of them.

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