The early Roman coinage consists of both cast and die-struck specimens but gradually the cast coinage was taken over by the die-struck technique. The die-struck silver didrachm was issued around 300 BCE, It was the earliest known silver coin used by the Roman government.
The denomination didrachm (two drachmas) was actually introduced by the Greeks. The Greeks began producing silver coins in the middle of sixth century BCE about three hundred years before its Roman counterpart. The Greek numismatics tradition greatly influenced Roman coin production in terms of style, technology, and design. The similarity is so deceiving that if there were not for the legend ‘Romano' beneath the relief on the reverse side one cannot distinguish between Greek and Roman silver didrachm.
The early silver coins depicted the god Mars and the bust of the horse on the reverse side. Mars is the Roman god of war and in later period his popularity became so much that he was seen as the protector of the capital and the father of the twin Remus and Romulus (the founder of Rome). The coming century silver didrachm saw various new designs like the bust of Apollo paired with horse or horse bust, Jupiter, Victoria on the quadriga, etc. The later silver coins were struck in Rome and each specimen was struck for special circumstance rather than to meet the supply of the steady coinage.
These later coins depicted the young Hercules’ diademed bust facing right with lion skin around the neck and a club on his shoulder on the obverse side. The reverse side depicted a She-wolf standing facing right with the nursing the twin Remus and Romulus below her and ROMANO legend depicted above the relief. The above show image is the fine example of the later minted didrachm and it was struck in between 275 and 255 BCE.
This coinage was circulated in Rome till 211 BCE, it was replaced by the denarius-a new Roman denomination. This new value became most popular and most widely issued in the Roman economy for the coming four centuries.
Learn more about early Roman denomination quadrigatus.
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