In 270 CE, a sixty-year-old Illyrian general named Lucius Domitius Aurelianus, or more commonly, Aurelian, was proclaimed emperor by his troops. His reign in many ways epitomizes the era of the Illyrian soldier emperors, in which military matters directed the frequently changing leadership. Aurelian notably was nicknamed manu ad ferrum, or “Hand on Steel,” an allusion to his fierce martial identity. Note the amount of space on the obverse of this aureus taken up by the emperor’s cuirass – this is one innovation that reflects the shift in the emperor’s role as a commander first. The Third Century Crisis has been titled such due to the overturn of imperial rulers, frequent usurpers, rise in militarization, invasions by “barbarian” tribes, and significantly, financial decay. Aurelian addressed the staggering inflation by reforming the extremely debased coinage. (This coin is noticeably pre-reform, as it does not have the mintmarks of later coinage, and the portrait of Aurelian is still rudimentary – note his unrealistically thin, long neck and disproportionate head.) Further, he built defensive walls around Rome -- a marked change from past policy -- and destroyed the rebellious growing kingdom of Zenobia in Palmyra, as well as the Gallic Empire. The reverse of this coin features Sol Invictus, the “Unconquerable Sun,” a deity imported from Illyria, and popular with the soldiers and eastern inhabitants of the empire. Aurelian did not repeat the mistakes of Elagabalus and impose his patron deity by elevating Sol Invictus above the state religion. The cult’s place within a broader pantheon made it less threatening than the monotheistic bent of Elagabalus’ god or that of the Christians. This traditionally themed religion and unifying cult for the army bolstered morale in the empire. Aurelian also used the invincible god to promote himself as similarly victorious, as the reverse of this aureus illustrates, acclaiming Aurelian as the Restorer of the East. KHK.