Bernhard Woytek is working on a new special investigation of the Roman coinage under Nerva (96–98), with whom the sequence of so-called adoptive emperors began in the high imperial period.

Moneta Imperii Romani

In Vienna, the reconstruction of the so-called structure of the Roman imperial coinage looks back over a long tradition that can be traced back to the 18th century. Under ›structure‹, numismatists of the Vienna School understand the precise examination of the sequence and the chronology of coinage, for all the nominalia. With the initiation of the series »Moneta Imperii Romani« (MIR) by Robert Göbl, published by the Austrian Academy of Sciences since 1984, a connection was created between the older idea of ›structure‹ with the principle of the reference work. Subsequently, profusely illustrated studies were produced, serving as reference works for all coin types and variants issued under an emperor in the imperial currency of the mint of Rome (and, where appropriate, of its subsidiary mints).


Although Nerva only ruled for 16 months, his reign constitutes a key period for the high imperial period. After the violent end of the last of the Flavians, Domitian (81–96), shortly after assuming the throne Nerva found himself caught between the conflicting interests of the different groups who were struggling for power and influence in the Imperium Romanum. In the autumn of 97 he adopted – under unclear circumstances – M. Ulpius Traianus, made him co-regent and successor to the throne, and thereby founded the adoptive emperorship. Nerva died already in January 98, whereas his successor ruled for almost twenty years.

Nerva’s coins and the new project MIR 13

Since the appearance of the investigation by N.T. Elkins, The Image of Political Power in the Reign of Nerva, AD 96–98 (Oxford 2017), the coinage of Nerva has with justification assumed a position of central interest in archaeological research. Nevertheless, until now a thorough treatment of the imperial coinage of Nerva, founded on a broad material basis, is lacking. This investigation, which will be based on the coinage of Nerva in the most important, large public coin collections as well as private collections, is intended to fill this gap. In this manner, a new, extensively illustrated reference work for the imperial coinage of Nerva will appear.


Head of the project

Bernhard Woytek