The most fascinating of all ancient coins, for me, are these aurei and denarii of Domitian or Domitia minted c. 82 AD in memory of their deceased infant child. Not only because it is a terrible loss for everybody, even a tyrant, but also because these coins are the oldest ones depicting the Earth seen from space. On the reverse the child is seen leaving the Earth and rising to the stars (probably the Ursa Major constellation). The Earth is depicted as a globe girdled with two perpendicular belts figuring the two annular oceans. (of course this is not mine, it's my dream coin...) Eratosthenes of Cyrene (c. 276 - c. 195 BC) had calculated the dimensions of the Globe and created a map of the inhabited world surrounded by oceans and covering less than one quarter of the Globe surface. Later, Crates of Mallos (who lectured in Rome in the 160s or 150s BC) drew the conclusion that the whole globe might be covered by 4 insular inhabited worlds separated by two annular oceans: an equatorial ocean and another perpendicular ocean passing through North and South poles. These two perpendicular oceanic rings separated our world from another one in the South hemisphere inhabited by the "Antoeci", and from another one in the Western (and eastern) hemisphere inhabited by the "Perioeci", and a fourth one South of the "Perioeci" inhabited by the "Antipodes". a modern graphic reconstruction of the Crates globe. This hypothetical globe became the doxa, and the Romans would not have been too surprised if they could have seen an actual image of the Earth because they thought obvious that there were inhabited lands on the other side of the Atlantic. For them, there were people all around the globe, the South hemisphere was temperate like our North hemisphere, but communication was impossible between the insular worlds, the oceans being too hot, or too cold, or too large. Cicero imagines in "Somnium Scipionis" what Earth looks like seen from the Milky way: "You see that on the earth only scattered and narrow plots are inhabited; while even in the very patches, as it were, in which men dwell, vast deserts are interspersed; and among those who live on the earth, there are not only such breaks that no communication can pass from one set to another, but some live in opposite zones; some on opposite sides of a zone; some even at the opposite point of the earth to you; and from these, at any rate, you can expect no glory. Moreover you see that this earth is girdled and surrounded by certain belts, as it were; of which two, the most remote from each other, and which rest upon the poles of the heaven at either end, have become rigid with frost; while that one in the middle, which is also the largest, is scorched by the burning heat of the sun. Two are habitable; of these, that one in the South - men standing in which have their feet planted right opposite to yours - has no connection with your race: moreover this other, in the Northern hemisphere which you inhabit, see in how small a measure it concerns you! For all the earth, which you inhabit, being narrow in the direction of the poles, broader East and West, is a kind of little island surrounded by the waters of that sea, which you on earth call the Atlantic, the Great Sea, the Ocean; and yet though it has such a grand name, see how small it really is!" Pliny wrote: "Human beings are distributed all round the earth and stand with their feet pointing toward each other, and the top of the sky is alike for them all and the earth trodden under foot at the center in the same way from any direction, while ordinary people enquire why the persons on the opposite side do not fall off - just as if it were not reasonable that the people on the other side wonder that why we do not fall off." (Plin. HN 2.161) Here is what it looks like when illustrated on a medieval manuscript : Page from Macrobius' comment on Cicero's Somnium Scipionis. Manuscript copied and illustrated in the 11th c. For the Roman Empire, the official image of the Earth was this globe girdled with two perpendicular belts.