The denomination ‘AS’ first surfaced when the Roman Republic minted coins using cast method. The AS of the Roman Republic weighted around 341g in 280 BCE. Roman bronze standards started gradually declining as the result of the First and Second Punic war. As a result, the weight of ‘AS’ was reduced to 278g in 240-225BCE.
In 240 BCE, the weight of the ‘AS’ further reduced to 50% and the weight became 220g. Till 225 BC, the monetary system of Rome underwent new reforms, the weight of the ‘AS’ was 140g. It was the same time that the AS was devalued - 6 asses were equivalent to the silver Didrachm. Before this one AS was equal to 12 Unicae, after 217BCE the weight of the AS came down to 88g.
The value of the Roman Asses can be analyzed with the record of legionary soldier earning 3 asses per day with wheat sold for 4 Asses per modius. The legionary pay was increased to 5 asses a day and price of the wheat increased to 6 Asses in 141BCE. The value of the commodity was increased but the value of money was decreased. During the time of Caesar, the AS weight drop to 29g. After the fall of Roman Republic, 4g was deducted from AS and it weighted around 25g. During this time the value of 4 AS was equal to one Sesterius.
The weight of the AS which was near to the pound of bronze was now reduced by 10-6 grams of bronze during the reign of Emperor Nero. The decline in the weight of this denomination illustrated the weakening of the economy and monetary system of the Roman Empire.
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Interesting Facts :
Modius: An ancient unit of grain measurement in Rome. It was equivalent to 0.96 pecks.