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Quantifying the Roman EconomyMethods and Problems$
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Alan Bowman and Andrew Wilson

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199562596

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199562596.001.0001

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Roman Silver Coinage: Mints, Metallurgy, and Production

Roman Silver Coinage: Mints, Metallurgy, and Production

(p.269) 12 Roman Silver Coinage: Mints, Metallurgy, and Production
Quantifying the Roman Economy

Matthew Ponting

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses issues surrounding the estimation of the silver content of Roman imperial silver coins and presents some results of ongoing research. Silver content is an important tool for the study of Roman fiscal policy and so reliable data are crucial. However, it is now clear that earlier published analyses using instrumental techniques overestimate the silver content and miss much of the structure in the fineness patterns. Nero's reform of AD 64 centred on a far more serious debasement than had been previously thought and the control of the silver bullion content of the coins was tight and change was frequent, especially during times of trouble. Modern instrumental techniques also measure other elements enabling a detailed chemical analysis and characterisation of coinages. This chapter shows how these data can be used to address questions about mint organization and metal supply.

Keywords:   Roman coinage, fiscal policy, silver, debasement, chemical analysis, mint organization, metal supply

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