Early Coins of Roman Republic

19 Mar 2018  Mon

Roman coinage developed later than its contemporary powers. It was influenced immensely by the Greek coinage. Its first coinage was documented by Pliny the Elder. According to him, coinage of Rome started during the reign of kings like Servius, Tulles and Numa.

In his early source, he quotes about a lump of bronze which circulated as money known as Aes Rude. In the above-shown image, the second coin is Aes rude and weighs around 33.95 g.

Aes Rude was circulated during the primitive period of the Roman monetary system. The base currency was bronze which exchanges according to weight. Its weight ranges from 8 to 300 grams, it does not consist any mark of value on it. In 450 BC, the value of these coins was codified under Roman law in the famous Twelve Tablets.

In 4th BC, Aes signatum came into circulation; it was the first standardized currency of Rome. This oblong brick began appearing in circulation along with Aes rude. In the above shown image, the first square coin depicts either a tree or fish bones; its weight is around 1111 g. The early weight of this currency varied from 3500 grams to 440.

Its design and weight improved in 3rd century BC and was influenced by the Hellenistic period. An Ox design connected to Oxen denomination featured on this currency. In the 2nd century, Rome started expanding and was exposed to south Italian politics. It was during this period that the shape of Aes signatum started changing and it became a military motif with letter Rom or 'Romanom' meaning 'Of the Rome'.

The weight of Aes signatum during 290-240 BC was around 1500 g or approximately 5 Roman pounds. These two currencies were slowly removed from circulation and were replaced by a new standardized money system called Aes Grave.

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Interesting Facts

Pliny the Elder was a Roman author, naturalist and natural philosopher. He was a naval and army commander of the early Roman Empire.

Image Courtesy: American Numismatics