Architecture - "Funeral Pyre" (or perhaps Ustrinum)
One of the most amazing architectural types on Roman Imperials is the ustrinum or "funeral pyre"
It consists of four tiers; the lowest most of which represents a plain podium with pilasters at the angles; having loosely-hanging drapery in front, with three large festoons, and the profile of a festoon at each end.
The next tier forms the sepulchral chamber for the reception of the dead body. In the center is a pair of panelled folding doors, flanked by two niches on each side with statues and surmounted by a cornice.
The tier above has five square-headed niches with statues and a cornice represented by beads; and the upper forms a lofty plain attic with hanging drapery in front, the folds of which are very marked.
A lit torch flanks each end of the upper tier, which forms a pedestal surmounted by the quadriga of the deceased, with his statue in the chariot and holding a palm leaf in his left hand. All the tiers diminish in width from the base upwards so as to assume a pyramidal form.
Marvin Tameanko, retired architect and specialist in ancient architectural coins comments:
"To cremate a body, bones and all (but not the teeth) you need lots of sustained heat. The Romans used a pyre, called a 'rogus', which was built with log cribworks, like a hollow log cabin, erected in stages, getting smaller at the top where the body was placed. The rogus was filled with straw and kindling and set alight. It acted as a chimney and funneled the heat to the top, incinerating the corpse. Herodian, the Roman historian describes the rogus in detail. After the cremation, the ashes were placed in a stone building, called a ustrinum, made to look like the wedding-cake shaped rogus or the Maussoleum of Hailcarnassus and built near the cremation site. The remains of these have been found in Rome as early as 1907. See the scan below taken from E. Nash, 'A Pictorial Dictionary of Ancient Rome', 1961.
The building on the coins is not a wooden rogus, but an ustrinum. Numismatists are too tradition bound with terminology, so they still perpetuate the terms, 'funeral pyre' and 'lit or large altars' when they should be saying, ustrinum and shrines."
Antoninus Pius, issued by Marcus Aurelius, AR Denarius, 161, Rome. DIVVS ANTONINVS Bare head, draped bust right. CONSECRATIO Four-tiered ustrinum, decorated with garlands and statues, surmounted by Antoninus Pius in a quadriga. RIC III, 438 of Marcus Aurelius, p. 247.