previous next


ἀργυροκοπεῖον). A mint. In Persia the king enjoyed the sole right of issuing gold money (see Daricus); but the cities on the coast of Asia Minor coined copper, silver, and even electrum coins at pleasure; and the different satraps struck silver money bearing their own names. In Greece proper and the Greek colonies each State or πόλις issued such money as it chose, so that a great variety of Greek coins have come down to us. Fully 2000 mints are known to have existed prior to the fall of the Roman Empire (A.D. 410). Sicily had more than fifty different mints, and even the little island of Ceos had three. The cities of Magna Graecia in Italy issued coins of a general uniformity, as did the Aetolian and Achaean Leagues. Under the Romans the Greek cities ceased to coin silver money, except a few favoured ones like Antioch, the Cappadocian Caesarea, and Tarsus, though copper coins were still struck in many towns of Greece and Asia.

As the Roman dominion extended over Italy, the State gradually put down the rival issues of Oscan, Etruscan, and other non-Latin coinages, and introduced a uniform system. At Rome, however, various personages at different times controlled the mintage. In the city, money was usually struck under the direction of three officials, the triumviri monetales; but generals in the field and abroad issued money as they found it necessary, placing upon it not only their names but their effigies. When Augustus assumed the supreme power he took to himself the sole right to issue gold and silver coins, leaving to the Senate the mintage of copper. Hence copper coins of the Empire bore the letters S. C., indicating that they were issued by authority of the Senate.

The ancient processes of minting were very simple. One engraved die was let into an anvil, another into the end of a metal bar. Between the two was placed the blank, roughly cast into the required shape and size and heated red hot. A single blow of a heavy hammer on the upper end of the bar usually finished the coin, which was then removed by a pair of tongs. Collars and milling were unknown. See Numismatics.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: