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This chapter provides answers to some basic questions: when did Rome start making coins, and why did they make them? What caused the coinage to change? And what are the limits of our quantification of the coin evidence that survives? Answering these questions gives new insights into Rome’s relationship with her regional neighbors in the third century, especially the Pyrrhic War and the wars with Carthage. Attention is given to legends and designs that advertise the purpose of a specific issue, as well as changing weight standards, denomination systems, and retariffing of the denarius. The final section reviews the application of statistics to estimate the size of issues and to compare hoards, and interpret coin weights and metallurgical tests.
In lieu of a conclusion, the book ends with a survey of the basic reference and research tools currently available to scholars and enthusiasts alike. This includes how to find more coin images online, how to find relevant numismatic publications, and what large research projects are currently underway in the field of Roman republican coinage.
This chapter documents how the Roman elite attempted to speak to ‘popular’ concerns: Will there be enough to eat? Can we keep the favor of the gods? How will our rights to land and our own bodies be protected? What can preserve the anonymity of our votes? It starts with coins celebrating concord in the aftermath of the Catilinarian conspiracy. It then looks at the representation of religious festivals and the city's grain supply on the coinage. The next section examines numismatic evidence related to Roman agrarian policies and colonization, with particular attention to Paestum. The last section considers how the coinage reflects constitutional issues, especially the secret ballot and political rhetoric in reaction to the Sullan Constitution.
The goal of the book as a whole is to ‘translate’ coin evidence for a new generation of historians. The work of Michael Crawford represented a major leap forward in the study of Roman republican coins during the twentieth century while on the work of earlier generations. The major thematic structure of the book is summarized, and eight basic principles related to the use of coin evidence are laid out.
The narrative of Roman history has been largely shaped by the surviving literary sources, augmented in places by material culture. The numerous surviving coins can, however, provide new information on the distant past. This accessible but authoritative guide introduces the student of ancient history to the various ways in which they can help us understand the history of the Roman republic, with fresh insights on early Roman-Italian relations, Roman imperialism, urban politics, constitutional history, the rise of powerful generals and much more. The text is accompanied by over 200 illustrations of coins, with detailed captions, as well as maps and diagrams so that it also functions as a sourcebook of the key coins every student of the period should know. Throughout, it demystifies the more technical aspects of the field of numismatics and ends with a how-to guide for further research for non-specialists.