GoldSalto de línea Probably minted at Colonia Patricia (Córdoba), circa 18 BC
Since the early 20th century, experts have believed that a few small gold and silver issues from the early imperial period, which do not conform to the standards of the mint in Rome, were struck in Hispania. This aureus belongs to a series attributed to Colonia Patricia (Córdoba), the administrative capital of Hispania Baetica, one of the first and incredibly rare gold coin issues minted on the Iberian Peninsula in antiquity.
Unlike the bronze coins issued by cities for local use, gold coins were controlled by the imperial authorities. They were minted centrally in Rome until the fourth century and only struck elsewhere on rare occasions.
The minting of these coins with imperial images in the provincial capital of Baetica—founded as Corduba in the mid-second century BC and renamed Colonia Patricia in 43 BC—coincided with the beginning of Augustus’s administrative, military and territorial reorganisation. The intensive extraction of precious metal from the peninsula’s gold mines, such as Las Médulas in León, also began around this time, although locally mined gold was customarily sent to Rome.
The reverse of the series is also closely linked to the first emperor. Augustus erected the temple of Mars Ultor (Mars the Avenger) in Rome to express his gratitude for the defeat of Caesar’s murderers, but it became a central element of his state propaganda programme after 20 BC.
The insignias and the eagle inside the temple allude to the victorious legions as well as to the recovery of the military standards captured by the Parthians decades earlier. Their return, made possible by Augustus’s diplomatic skills, appealed directly to patriotic pride and the identity of the legions, pillars of the Roman presence in the imperial provinces.