Defacing the past: damnation and desecration in imperial Rome

This exhibition runs from Fri, 23rd Dec 2016 to Sun, 7th May 2017. See all dates

This event runs over several days/weeks. Dates include:

  • Thu, 19th Jan 2017
  • Fri, 20th Jan 2017
  • Sat, 21st Jan 2017
  • Sun, 22nd Jan 2017
  • Mon, 23rd Jan 2017
10:00 am - 8:30 pm

Cost: Free of Charge

This exhibition shows off coins and other objects that were defaced, usually to condemn the memory of deceased Roman Emperors but sometimes to undermine the power of living ones.

Like many rulers, Roman emperors used inscriptions, sculptures and coins to project their authority. But the imperial image could be outraged and subverted for political and religious reasons.

The memory of Roman emperors could be condemned after their deathm which was particularly true if rulers were overthrown or executed. Their names would be erased from coins and stones, and their portraits defaced.

The display features a selection of coins, inscriptions, sculptures and papyri that show images and symbols of power being subverted in antiquity.

It also includes examples from Egypt, Mesopotamia and Greece, showing that the Romans were continuing a long tradition of desecration of rulers.

Contact and Booking Details

More information at this website.

No need to book tickets - just turn up on the day.


The British Museum,

Great Russell Street, London, London, WC1B 3DG

Google Map of The British Museum

Nearest tube and train stations to The British Museum

Tottenham Court Road
Russell Square