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A History of Ancient Rome in Twelve Coins

About The Book

Hold the glory—and infamy—of ancient Rome in the palm of your hand in this extraordinary and accessible story of history’s greatest superpower, as told through humanity’s most universal object: the coin.

When Gareth Harney was first handed a Roman coin by his father as a child, he became entranced by its beauty, and its unique ability to connect us with the distant past. He soon learned that the Romans saw coins as far more than just currency—these were metal canvases on which they immortalized their sacred gods, mighty emperors, towering monuments, and brutal battles of conquest. Revealed in those intricate designs struck in gold, silver, and bronze was the epic story of the Roman Empire.

Now, with his “novel and highly readable” (Philip Matyszak, author of The Blood-Red Sunset) voice and engaging research, Harney traces ancient Rome’s rise, from a few huts on an Italian hilltop to an all-conquering empire spanning three continents, through the fascinating lives of twelve remarkable coins. A unique and enthralling work of history for experts and casual history buffs.

About The Author

Louise Harney

Gareth Harney is a Roman historian and coin collector driven by the goal of bringing the wonders of the ancient world to a modern audience. He has worked on excavations of Roman villas in the southwest of England and written about Roman sites in the publications of the Association for Roman Archaeology. As a collector of Roman coinage, he has built his own extensive collection over two decades and pioneered new ways to bring the joys of this esoteric field to a popular audience. He can be found on X at @OptimoPrincipi and through his website

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atria Books (January 14, 2025)
  • Length: 320 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781668014158

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Raves and Reviews

“Excellent...enjoyable…1,000 years of Rome told in an engaging new way.”—The Times (London)

“Fantastic…a brilliant combination of history and expert storytelling – if anyone reads the first five pages, they’ll be up all night with it.” —Conn Iggulden, bestselling author of the Emperor series

“A novel and highly readable approach to Roman history. The author's enthusiasm shines through on every page.” —Philip Matyszak, author of A History of Ancient Rome in 100 Lives

“Extremely enjoyable. A brilliant combination of entertaining and educational Roman history that makes numismatics vivid and exciting.” —Emma Southon, author of A History of the Roman Empire in 21 Women

“Fast paced and vivid…makes more than a millennium of Roman history tangible, telling the story of the empire’s rise and fall through the thing that backed it all - cold hard cash. The coins in these pages funded wars, paid debts, and bought bread, but they also defined factions, declared beliefs, and forged the enduring images of some of history’s greatest men.” —Honor Cargill-Martin, author of Messalina

“This vivid story of some 800 years of artistry, assassination and adventure makes it far more than a history of Roman coins, but it's that too, and if you weren't already fascinated by these tiny beautiful works of art and all we can learn from them, I promise that you will be by the time the barbarians are at the gate (and probably by end of the prologue). There are riches aplenty in these pages, and Gareth uses his wonderful hoard of coins to pay our fare back to the roar of the Colosseum and the Roman senate house, where he is waiting to describe the ancient past with learning and immediacy.” —Christopher Hadley, author of The Road

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