Aventicum was an important ancient Roman and Swiss town, founded near the beginning of the common era (CE) and enjoying several centuries of growth as a thriving regional cultural center. Around 69 CE, the Roman Emperor Vespasian (who spent a military childhood there) granted Aventicum the elite status of a settlement colony, and in 71 construction began on the city’s famous walls. After it was sacked by Germanic tribes in the late third century, Aventicum began a centuries-long decline from which it never recovered. By the seventh century, it lay in ruins.
The modern city of Avenches resides not far from the ancient settlement.
During an excavation of Aventicum’s “Cigognier” temple in 1939, a 22-karat gold bust commonly accepted to be of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius was discovered in the ancient sewer. The approximately 33.5 cm high and 29.5 cm wide bust weighs over 1.5 kg and is the most prized archaeological discovery ever made in Swizterland. To further heighten its pricelessness, it is one of only three gold busts of Roman emperors to have come down to us from antiquity.
It is this unique historical treasure that is pictured on the 2015 “2,000 Years of Aventicum” 50 franc gold coin.
The obverse features a three-quarters profile facing left of the aforementioned gold bust of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius (ruled 161-180 CE), last of the “Five Good Emperors”. He is shown bearded, a trend introduced into imperial art during the reign of the Emperor Hadrian (from 117-138). In the middle of his parade armor’s breastplate is a gorgon’s head, or Gorgoneion, a motif possibly used since prehistoric times to ward off or protect against evil.
The inscription CONFEDERATIO HELVETICA (Latin for Swiss Confederation) is found on the reverse, with CONFEDERATIO wrapping around the rim and HELVETICA inset. At the four o’clock position near the rim is the date 2015. The Swiss cross is located beneath the HE in HELVETICA. The denomination “50 FR” is also included, 50 inscribed in extra-large font. Between the 50 and FR is the mintmark (“B” for Bern).
|Year Of Issue:||2015|
|Mint Mark:||B (Bern)|
|Alloy:||.900 Gold, .100 Copper|
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