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Monday, 14 October 2013

The Monetary Reform Of Diocletian – Part Four

The gold and silver coins were accompanied by a series of new denominations of fleece. The most important of all was a completely original piece, minted in 1/30 of the Roman pound, or about 10.8 grams and a silver plated representing between 5% and 4% of the total weight. This new piece is usually designated as follis (by assimilation of large bronze coin introduced by the monetary reform of the Byzantine Emperor Anastasius), but probably it was known simply as nummus, the Latin term for currency. The term referred follis fact at this time to standard coin bags, containing 125 parts of silver and had a seal certifying the content, something very convenient when exchanging large numbers.

The nummus be produced in prodigious quantities to become the backbone of the new system. Also occurred, although to a much lesser quantity and quality, two fractional parts, which would quickly be discontinued; a) A small coin minted to 1/100 of the Roman pound (3.2 grams) with radiated bust made of bronze but with a thin silver coverage from 1 to 1.25% of its weight, and b) a bronze coin (now included in the collection of antique coins minted laureate bust in 1/200 of the Roman pound (1.6 grams). The value of this last piece amounted to a denarius communis (dc), the traditional name of the Roman system, for inflation during the third century, had become a currency of no specific monetary equivalent. The DC was still used to express the value of goods as we see clearly in the famous edict of Diocletian maximum prices of which more later on.

It is clear that all parts of the new monetary system had fixed exchange rates stipulated in DC in the following way;

Golden = 600 dc
Pentads = 300 dc
Argenteus = 25 dc
Nummus = 5 dc
Lacing fleece = 2 dc
Laureate bronze = 1 dc

That the nummus was tariff on 5 dc is demonstrated by Siscia and Alexandria parts that bear the mark of value XX and XXI, indicating that amounted to 20 sesterces, i.e. 5 pence. Some copies of Antioch carry also the letters K and V indicating 20 sesterces and 5 pence.

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