In its many centuries of existence, the Roman state evolved from a monarchy to a classical republic and to an increasingly autocratic empire. Through conquest and assimilation, it came to dominate the Mediterranean region and Western Europe, Asia Minor, North Africa and it is often grouped into classical antiquity together with ancient Greece, and their similar cultures and societies are known as the Greco-Roman world. Ancient Roman civilisation has contributed to modern government, politics, art, architecture, warfare, religion and society. Rome professionalised and expanded its military and created a system of government called res publica, the inspiration for modern republics such as the United States and France. By the end of the Republic, Rome had conquered the lands around the Mediterranean and beyond, its domain extended from the Atlantic to Arabia, the Roman Empire emerged with the end of the Republic and the dictatorship of Augustus Caesar. 721 years of Roman-Persian Wars started in 92 BC with their first war against Parthia and it would become the longest conflict in human history, and have major lasting effects and consequences for both empires.
Under Trajan, the Empire reached its territorial peak, Republican mores and traditions started to decline during the imperial period, with civil wars becoming a prelude common to the rise of a new emperor. Splinter states, such as the Palmyrene Empire, would divide the Empire during the crisis of the 3rd century. Plagued by internal instability and attacked by various migrating peoples, the part of the empire broke up into independent kingdoms in the 5th century. This splintering is a landmark historians use to divide the ancient period of history from the pre-medieval Dark Ages of Europe. King Numitor was deposed from his throne by his brother, while Numitors daughter, Rhea Silvia, because Rhea Silvia was raped and impregnated by Mars, the Roman god of war, the twins were considered half-divine. The new king, feared Romulus and Remus would take back the throne, a she-wolf saved and raised them, and when they were old enough, they returned the throne of Alba Longa to Numitor. Romulus became the source of the citys name, in order to attract people to the city, Rome became a sanctuary for the indigent and unwanted.
This caused a problem for Rome, which had a large workforce but was bereft of women, Romulus traveled to the neighboring towns and tribes and attempted to secure marriage rights, but as Rome was so full of undesirables they all refused. Legend says that the Latins invited the Sabines to a festival and stole their unmarried maidens, leading to the integration of the Latins, after a long time in rough seas, they landed at the banks of the Tiber River. Not long after they landed, the men wanted to take to the sea again, one woman, named Roma, suggested that the women burn the ships out at sea to prevent them from leaving. At first, the men were angry with Roma, but they realized that they were in the ideal place to settle. They named the settlement after the woman who torched their ships, the Roman poet Virgil recounted this legend in his classical epic poem the Aeneid
Roman currency for most of Roman history consisted of gold, bronze and copper coinage. From its introduction to the Republic, during the third century BC, well into Imperial times, Roman currency saw many changes in form, denomination, a persistent feature was the inflationary debasement and replacement of coins over the centuries. Notable examples of this followed the reforms of Diocletian and this trend continued into Byzantine times. The manufacture of coins in the Roman culture, dating from about the 4th century BC, the origin of the word mint is ascribed to the manufacture of silver coin at Rome in 269 BC at the temple of Juno Moneta. This goddess became the personification of money, and her name was applied both to money and to its place of manufacture, Roman mints were spread widely across the Empire, and were sometimes used for propaganda purposes. The populace often learned of a new Roman Emperor when coins appeared with the new Emperors portrait. The Romans cast their larger copper coins in clay moulds carrying distinctive markings, not because they knew nothing of striking, Roman adoption of metallic commodity money was a late development in monetary history.
Bullion bars and ingots were used as money in Mesopotamia since the 7th millennium BC, coinage proper was only introduced by the Roman Republican government c.300 BC. For these reasons, the Romans would have known about coinage systems long before their government actually introduced them. The reason behind Romes adoption of coinage was likely cultural, the Romans had no pressing economic need, but they wanted to emulate Greek culture, and they considered the institution of minted money a significant feature of that culture. However, Roman coinage initially saw limited use. The type of money introduced by Rome was unlike that found elsewhere in the ancient Mediterranean and it combined a number of uncommon elements. One example is the large bronze bullion, the aes signatum and it measured about 160 by 90 millimetres and weighed around 1,500 to 1,600 grams, being made out of a highly leaded tin bronze. Although similar metal bars had been produced in Italy and northern Etruscan areas, these had been made of Aes grave.
Along with the aes signatum, the Roman state issued a series of bronze, produced using the manner of manufacture utilised in Greek Naples, the designs of these early coins were heavily influenced by Hellenic designs. The designs on the coinage of the Republican period displayed a solid conservatism, usually illustrating mythical scenes or personifications of various gods, in 27 BC, the Roman Republic came to an end as Augustus ascended to the throne as the first emperor. Taking autocratic power, it became recognized that there was a link between the emperors sovereignty and the production of coinage. The imagery on coins took an important step when Julius Caesar issued coins bearing his own portrait, while moneyers had earlier issued coins with portraits of ancestors, Caesars was the first Roman coinage to feature the portrait of a living individual
The uncia was a Roman currency worth 1/12 of an as. By derivation, it was the name of a coin valued at one-twelfth of an as produced during the Roman Republic. Obverse types of the include a knucklebone, a barleycorn. In imperial times the uncia was briefly revived under Trajan and Hadrian and this coin was about 11–14 mm in diameter and weighed about 0. 8–1.2 grams. It featured the bust of the emperor on the obverse with no inscription, if this issue belonged to the imperial system, meaning it was not a provincial piece, it would be an uncia. This issue may have made only for circulation in the East. Duella Roman currency Roman Republican coinage
The Antoninianus, or radiate, was a coin used during the Roman Empire thought to have been valued at 2 denarii. It was initially silver, but was slowly debased to bronze with a silver content. Antoniniani depicting females, usually the wife, featured the bust resting upon a crescent moon. Even at its introduction the silver content was only equal to 1.5 denarii and this helped to create inflation, people rapidly hoarded the denarii, while both buyers and sellers recognised the new coin had a lower intrinsic value and elevated their prices to compensate. Each new issue of the Antoninianus thus had less silver in it than the last, in 271 Aurelian increased the average weight of the Antoninianus. This was carried out for a short time and this period was when the enigmatic XXI was first marked on the reverse of the Antoninianus. The true meaning of this series of numbers is still a topic of debate, by the late 3rd century the coins were almost entirely made of bronze from melted down old issues like the sestertius.
Vast quantities were being minted, with a proportion of the stocks being contemporary forgeries, often with blundered legends. Individual coins were by practically worthless and were lost or discarded by the millions, today most of these coins are extremely common finds, with a few more scarce examples including Aemilianus, Marcus Aurelius Marius and Regalianus. The situation was not unlike the hyperinflation of the Weimar Republic in 1920s Germany, the coin ceased to be used by the end of the 3rd century when a series of coinage reforms attempted to arrest the decline by issuing new types. Modern numismatists use this name for the coin because it is not known what it was called in antiquity, an ancient Roman document called the Historia Augusta refers to silver coins named after an Antoninus on several occasions
These additions produce a range of alloys that may be harder than copper alone, or have other useful properties, such as stiffness, ductility, or machinability. The archeological period where bronze was the hardest metal in use is known as the Bronze Age. In the ancient Near East this began with the rise of Sumer in the 4th millennium BC, with India and China starting to use bronze around the same time, everywhere it gradually spread across regions. The Bronze Age was followed by the Iron Age starting from about 1300 BC and reaching most of Eurasia by about 500 BC, the discovery of bronze enabled people to create metal objects which were harder and more durable than previously possible. Bronze tools, weapons and building such as decorative tiles were harder and more durable than their stone. It was only that tin was used, becoming the major ingredient of bronze in the late 3rd millennium BC. Tin bronze was superior to arsenic bronze in that the process could be more easily controlled. Also, unlike arsenic, metallic tin and fumes from tin refining are not toxic, the earliest tin-alloy bronze dates to 4500 BCE in a Vinča culture site in Pločnik.
Other early examples date to the late 4th millennium BC in Africa and some ancient sites in China, ores of copper and the far rarer tin are not often found together, so serious bronze work has always involved trade. Tin sources and trade in ancient times had a influence on the development of cultures. In Europe, a source of tin was the British deposits of ore in Cornwall. In many parts of the world, large hoards of bronze artefacts are found, suggesting that bronze represented a store of value, in Europe, large hoards of bronze tools, typically socketed axes, are found, which mostly show no signs of wear. With Chinese ritual bronzes, which are documented in the inscriptions they carry and from other sources and these were made in enormous quantities for elite burials, and used by the living for ritual offerings. Pure iron is soft, and the process of beating and folding sponge iron to wrought iron removes from the metal carbon. Careful control of the alloying and tempering eventually allowed for wrought iron with properties comparable to modern steel, Bronze was still used during the Iron Age, and has continued in use for many purposes to the modern day.
Among other advantages, it does not rust, the weaker wrought iron was found to be sufficiently strong for many uses. Archaeologists suspect that a disruption of the tin trade precipitated the transition. The population migrations around 1200–1100 BC reduced the shipping of tin around the Mediterranean, limiting supplies, there are many different bronze alloys, but typically modern bronze is 88% copper and 12% tin
The quinarius was a small silver Roman coin valued at half a denarius. The quinarius was struck for a few years, along with the silver sestertius, at this time the quinarius was valued at 5 asses. The coin was reintroduced in 101 BC as a replacement for the victoriatus, for a few years following its reintroduction, large quantities of quinarii were produced, mostly for circulation in Gaul. The coin was produced sporadically until the 3rd century, the term gold quinarius or quinarius aureus is used to describe the half-aureus, which is valued at 12.5 denarii. This term has no ancient authority
The dupondius was a brass coin used during the Roman Empire and Roman Republic valued at 2 aes. The dupondius was introduced during the Roman Republic as a bronze cast coin. The initial coins featured the bust of Roma on the obverse, some dupondii were made entirely from copper under Augustus, while under subsequent Nero some aes were made from both orichalcum and copper, instead of only copper for aes coined until then. Therefore, the latter can only be distinguished from dupondii by their smaller size instead of by the appearance of the metal. The dupondius was normally further distinguished from the similarly sized as with the addition of a crown to the bust of the emperor in 66 AD during the reign of Nero. Using a radiate crown to indicate double value was used on the antoninianus introduced by Caracalla. An extremely rare dupondius from the reign of Marcus Aurelius, dated to 154 or 155 and in excellent condition, was discovered in 2007 at the site in Drapers Gardens
Quincunx (Roman coin)
The quincunx was an ancient Roman bronze coin produced during the Roman Republic. It was not part of the standard Roman monetary system and it was only produced during the Second Punic War, by mints at Luceria, Teate and northern Apulia. A coin with the value was minted in Capua, during the Second Punic War. The word quincunx comes from Latin quinque which means five and uncia which means one twelfth and its value was sometimes represented by a pattern of five dots arranged like the points of a die, so this pattern came to be called quincunx
The victoriatus was a silver coin issued during the Roman Republic from about 221 BC to 170 BC. The obverse of the featured the bust of Jupiter and the reverse featured Victory placing a wreath upon a trophy with the inscription ROMA in exergue. The coin originally weighed about 3.4 grams, meaning that it was half the value of the quadrigatus, the victoriatus was made of a more debased silver than the denarius, which was introduced at about the same time. When first issued the victoriatus had a value of about 3/4 of a denarius, however when the quinarius was reintroduced in 101 BC with a similar type, it was valued at 1/2 a denarius. This indicates that victoriati that were still in circulation at time were worn. The reintroduced quinarius was produced mainly for Cisalpine Gaul, where the victoriatus, the reintroduced quinarius may have continued to be called a victoriatus, although there is no written evidence of this. The name victoriatus is an ancient term, attested by several contemporary texts, the coin was known as a tropaikon among Greek speakers.
Roman currency Michael Crawford Roman Republican coinage John Melville Jones, A Dictionary of Ancient Roman Coins, London 1990
The semuncia, symbol
The quadrans or teruncius was a low-value Roman bronze coin worth one quarter of an as. The quadrans was issued from the beginning of cast bronze coins during the Roman Republic with three pellets representing three unciae as a mark of value, the obverse type, after some early variations, featured the bust of Hercules, while the reverse featured the prow of a galley. Coins with the value were issued from other cities in Central Italy. After ca.90 BC, when coinage was reduced to the semuncial standard. It was produced sporadically until the time of Antoninus Pius, unlike other coins during the Roman Empire, the quadrans rarely bore the image of the emperor. The Greek word for the quadrans was κοδράντης, which was translated in the King James Version of the Bible as farthing, in the New Testament a coin equal to one half the Attic chalcus was worth about 3/8 of a cent. In Marks gospel, when a poor widow gave two mites or λεπτα to the Temple Treasury, the writer noted that this amounted to one quadrans.
Roman currency Semis Media related to quadrans at Wikimedia Commons