Late roman coins during byzantine era

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Basileus Antialcidas, Apr 14, 2021.

  1. For how long can we find late roman coins like those of Constantine been used in the Byzantine era. I know for example that older roman coins would end up been used for centuries, most of them bronzes. So would it be eligible to say that we could see late roman coins during early byzantine times, or maybe even later times (10th century)?
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  3. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    There’s evidence of Roman coins being used in Spain as late as the 16th century, among others. So most likely, I feel like in certain times and areas anything small and relatively round was as good as a coin
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  4. The Trachy Enjoyer

    The Trachy Enjoyer Well-Known Member

    I agree. I haven't seen any hoards post 1204 containing coinage more than 100 years old or so...I think as Byzantium kept losing, people tended to bury their coinage rather than spend it...there is also proof of overstrikes and melting down/reminting coins so who knows how long the metal from these coins stayed in circulation (just not in the form they were originally minted in)
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  5. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    @dougsmit has a Byzantine follis overstruck on an As of Gordian III!! 600 years later this coin was still circulating, albeit in a different form
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  6. SeptimusT

    SeptimusT Well-Known Member

    It might be interesting to do a metallurgical study of Byzantine coins compared to ancient Roman coins. If their alloys were substantially different, it might identify restruck or melted coins. Probably not too feasible to get a big enough sample, but we can dream.
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  7. furryfrog02

    furryfrog02 Well-Known Member

    I was going to mention @dougsmit 's Gordian III that was the host coin for a Byzantine follis but looks like @hotwheelsearl beat me to it.
    Truly cool coin, that!
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  8. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    The shops at Sardis were destroyed around 617 A.D. (possibly by Persians). In the ruins, thousands of coins were found by archaeologists. Lots of Byzantine coins, of course, since this was Byzantine territory, but also lots of little Late Roman Bronze coins that were a couple hundred years old then - in fact about half of the coins found were Roman (pre-491 A.D.).

    A while back I posted excerpts from the findings:
  9. dltsrq

    dltsrq Grumpy Old Man

    Some random thoughts. The distinction between "Roman" and "Byzantine" is a modern one. The reform of Anastasius is a convenient point for numismatists but the reality is more complex. There were many coinage reforms, often coinciding with demonetization of previous issues. The bronze coins of Constantine were almost certainly demonetized with the Fel Temp Reparatio reform of 348. We know from a law of Constans and Julian preserved in the Codex Theodosianus that the penalties for using "prohibited" coins were potentially severe. This is not to say that decades or even centuries later, obsolete coins did not sometimes return to circulation on a very limited basis. Recently, a large 16th century hoard was unearthed in Poland which included a few Roman denarii.
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  10. dltsrq

    dltsrq Grumpy Old Man

  11. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter 3rd Century Usurper

    My theory is that the late roman bronzes (AE4s) may have been used as a "nummus" in Byzantine times, where 40 of the small coins equals one of the folles with "M" on the reverse, standing for 40 nummi.
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  12. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    That makes a lot of sense to me.

    The value of these "nummi" were so low even when first minted in Roman times I read that they circulated in bags of 1000. Individual value was so low it probably cost more to mint them than they were worth (sort of like the US penny nowadays). It probably wasn't even worth counterfeiting them.

    By Byzantine times these nummi were probably very familiar and still useful in small transactions (again, like the US penny). The loss of these nummi over time was compensated by the Byzantine Empire's shrinking borders and population, so there was little need, perhaps, to mint new ones. Which might explain the scarcity of tiny Byzantine post-reform nummi.

    It also explains why so many LRB show extensive circulation wear; they were around for a long time (as @hotwheelsearl notes, still in use in 16th century Spain!).
  13. Victor_Clark

    Victor_Clark standing on the shoulders of giants Dealer

    I am sure that coins like that were not in continual circulation (they would be worn smooth), but reintroduced, probably because they were recently found, prior to being stamped for reintroduction.
  14. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    I agree. Hard to imagine constant circulation for that long. There’s a sayijg I heard somewhere that every single ancient coin was buried for some period of time; there are no coins surviving above ground since minting.
  15. rrdenarius

    rrdenarius non omnibus dormio Supporter

    Roman coins were around a while. I think @Victor_Clark is right, they would be smooth if in continuous circulation. Some coins were repurposed:
    Ostrogothic retarrifed Otho AA e52.jpg
    this Galba has XLII (mark of value = 42 Nummi) which the seller attributed to the Period of Theoderic and Athalaric, 6th century.

    Monete Barbariche.Vandali V tintine90.jpg
    I bought this one because it looks like a fit for my half As collection of cut coins. In hand I see little of the obverse or reverse, but the shape looks like a RR Janus Prow coin about 150 - 200 BC. The seller did not offer a date for the mark - V, but offered it in the same grouping as the coin above.

    Anglo-Saxon Cemetery at Sarr.png
    I posted some LRB turned into scale weights. Most of the time these weights are called Byzantine. @EWC3 posted a link to a grave dig that had scales and coin scale weights.
    Grave 26 - Sarre Anglo-Saxon Cemetery - Kent Archaeological Society's Archaeological Collection (
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  16. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

  17. Victor_Clark

    Victor_Clark standing on the shoulders of giants Dealer

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  18. Herberto

    Herberto Well-Known Member

    Wow. I am learning something. So, coins minted in the reign of Constantine or Theodosius continued to be used in 600? Amazing.

    I want to ask you or the others if you know the answer:

    Do we know how much worth those late-Roman coins were worth in relation to the Byzantine denomination in 600?

    Was the late-Roman coins worth 5 nummi? 10? or 40?
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  19. Herberto

    Herberto Well-Known Member

    I find it extremely, extremely, extremely unlikely that a bronze coin minted in 200s should have circulated until about 1000 CE. That coin was most likely found in earth after centuries, and then restruck with that Jesus portrait.
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  20. dltsrq

    dltsrq Grumpy Old Man

    The Theodosian AE4 nummus was effectively the only circulating bronze coin of the 5th century and was the basis of the reformed coinage of Anastasius. The reformed coins were multiples denominated in Greek numerals: M=40, K=20, I=10, etc. The "M" denomination was known as follis meaning "bag", the tiny pre-reform bronzes having typically circulated in bags of a certain number. My simplistic understanding is that the only major change to the bronze coinage system from the end of the 4th century into the 10th century or so was the introduction of multiples by Anastasius. The pre-reform AE4 must have continued to circulate for some period after the reform. Indeed Anastasius and several emperors after him continued to strike them. However, inflation took it's toll. The module of the follis declined and by the beginning of the 7th century, the smallest denomination issued was the pentanummium ("5"). However, as noted above, tiny nummi a century or two old have been found in an early 7th century context at Sardis.
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2021
  21. Herberto

    Herberto Well-Known Member

    Amazing. Thanks for explanation.

    Do we know whether coins of Constantine I were found in this ruin of Sardes?

    So, you are telling me that the coins of Theodosius and his two sons, and the later emperors such of Marcian or Zeno, continued to be circulated even in 600's, but NOT those of Constantine I?

    By the way if I may ask: Do you or other here know whether the word "follis" ("bag") is Greek or latin?
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