Novaesium, alias Neuss

Roman coins, republic and empire

von Carol Humphrey Vivian Sutherland   
I. The beginnings V. Early imperial mint policy
II. Introduction of the denarius VI. Portraits and types
III. Control and content of the coinage VII. The 4th century and after
IV. Caesar and after VIII. Literatur

V. Early imperial mint policy

Augustus (27 BC-AD 14) based the coinage on the aureus of 1/42 of a pound of gold, equivalent to 25 denarii, each of 1/84 of a pound of silver, the metals being struck almost pure. The denarius was valued at 16 asses. Token coinage consisted henceforth of brass sesterces and dupondii (equal to four and two asses, respectively), with copper asses, halves, and quarters, the as being the most common. Nero in AD 64 lightened aureus and denarius to 1/45 and 1/96, respectively, but debasement of silver subsequently took place. Under Septimius Severus it reached 40 percent, and Caracalla issued a debased double denarius of the weight of only 1 1/2 denarii. Gallienus' double denarius of copper and silver, leached to give a more silver-rich surface, marked a monetary breakdown, only partially cured when Diocletian and Constantine again made gold the firm basis for supplementary pure silver and abundant copper coinage.

Augustus' earliest gold and silver were coined chiefly in the east - e.g., at Ephesus and Pergamum - and more briefly at Emerita in Spain. Bronze also was mainly eastern, though some was struck at Nemausus (Nîmes). The Rome mint was reopened c. 20 BC for gold and silver and remained open for this purpose until c. 12 BC; its bronze continued irregularly. From 12 BC, Lugdunum (Lyon), with other mints of uncertain identity, undertook the main western coinages in gold, silver, and bronze. After 64 Rome was once more the chief mint for all metals. Official mintages were supplemented by a mass of regional or local coinages, while official coinages from eastern mints provided necessary currency for local Roman frontier forces.

The bronze of Rome was marked S(enatus) C(onsulto) and continued to bear the names of the tresviri monetales - masters of the mint, now reduced to their traditional number - until 4 BC. But S C also appeared on bronze from Lyon and Antioch in imperial provinces, showing that whatever nominal senatorial rights of coinage still lingered on - the tresviri are known until the 3rd century - the emperor wielded effective control over all metals everywhere. This was logical, since his economic powers were equally comprehensive. In fact, the old senatorial mint was transferred from the temple of Juno Moneta on Rome's Capitoline Hill and merged, probably after the fire of 64, with an imperial mint for gold and silver elsewhere in the capital. Henceforth, it worked in sections - six were normal later - controlled immediately by an imperial procurator and staffed by slaves or freedmen.



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