This coin features a portrait of the Emperor Vespasian on the obverse (front) and the personified Judaea, who is labeled, on the reverse (back). The Flavian portraiture is a radical departure from the largely idealized portraiture of the Julio-Claudians. The object behind the Jewess is a trophy and is a clear metaphor for Judea Capta (captive Judea). BRS.
The coinage of Vespasian marks the beginning of the Flavian dynasty, best known for its military feats. Indeed, Vespasian was notably promoted to emperor by the legions of Egypt, Syria, and the Danube – not the senate. He and his son Titus vanquished the Jewish revolts, despite their strong guerilla warfare tactics. While Vespasian returned to Rome, Titus led the Roman forces into Jerusalem and stormed the city. After the destruction of the Temple, the uprising was mostly defeated, though Masada and a few minor holdouts remained. The obverse of this aureus features a veristic portrayal of Vespasian, with his aged, war-weary, and tough commander’s face. This may have been an intentional stylistic move to distance the new regime from the preceding Julio-Claudians and their violent, corrupted end. Rather than the more traditional idealized iconography of many of the earlier emperors, such as the youthful, smooth face and divinity-imitating locks of hair in portraits of Augustus, Vespasian is transparently a gruff military leader. The reverse is a simple but powerful image of a war trophy, with a mourning, captive Jewess -- the personification of Judaea -- on the ground below. KHK.