Monday, May 30, 2011

Colchester Roman Coin Hoard

This month another Roman coin "hoard" has been unearthed in what was Britannia. This one of over 1,200 coins, again found in a ceramic jar, buried in the ground. It is evident that 2,000 years ago in the Roman Empire, instead of electronic bank accounts like we have today, they used jars of coins as their "accounts". A short story about the find here at an antiquities blog.

Below is a picture of the broken jar containing the coins in situ.

Here is another story from (which is a pretty interesting blog btw).

Details from the story at thehistoryblog:
The coins are of a type known as antoniniani. The hoard is made up of issues of at least nine Roman emperors ranging from Gallus (251-3) to Victorinus (269-271). The latest coins in the hoard point to a date for its deposition in the early part of AD 271.

The antoninianus started life off as a silver coin issued in the early 3rd century but, by the time of the Hyderabad hoard, it had become very debased and ended up as a copper-alloy coin with a very thin silver coating.
This is very interesting how brainwashed what should be objective archeologists have become due to the propaganda put out by those who peddle the "hard money" theories and those who advocate the view that "money is a commodity". The historians actually use the word "debased", to describe these 2,000 year old coins used by the most powerful empire the world had ever seen to that point.

This post continues:

Severe inflation reduced its monetary value which is why later antoniniani are common finds on archaeological sites of the third quarter of the 3rd century. The Hyderabad hoard belongs to this period.

Again more quantity theory of money dogma, the authors here are actually trying to pass off commentary on the inflationary environment in Brittania 2,000 years ago; were they there? How about sticking to the empirical facts folks and leave the dogma out of it. As centuries had gone by since the Romans first arrived in Britannia; a poll tax for provision purchases of the expanded legions, the use of these coins in commercial transactions and the local savings desires of the Roman currency had become more widespread, so of course we would find evidence of larger amounts of Roman coins in Britannia.

I can here the Austrians already: "Debasin'!"... "They were printin' money!".... "Those Roamins' was inflatin' the currency!"... "this led to the downfall of the Roamin' empire!".

But they ignore the political history; just like they ignore the political situations surrounding recent inflations in Zimbabwe and the dreaded "Weimar Germany". The post continues, the authors apparently cannot even see the truth when they are writing it:
This was a turbulent time for the Roman Empire known as the Crisis of the Third Century. Twenty-five emperors reigned between 235 and 284 (Ed: Hel-lo!), and in 260, under pressure from barbarian invasions (Ed: do-what?!), the empire split into three (Ed: okay!) warring sections. The province of Britannia joined Gaul, Hispania and Germania to form the Gallic Empire under the control of the Batavian usurper Postumus. Postumus was himself usurped and was killed by his own troops (Ed: The Roman Doug Neidermeyer?) in 268. The Gallic Empire fell apart and a chain of would-be emperors followed for a few years until the Emperor Aurelian reclaimed the provinces after his victory in the Battle of Châlons in 274.
Please ignore this utter political chaos folks, it was "money debasing" that was the real problem for Rome in the third century.... LOL!


David said...

It's true that the Romans always understood money as a creature of the law. They became a powerhouse on a "debased coinage." It did complicate things considerably, though, when Julius Caesar got his hands on large amounts of gold in Spain. Introducing precious metal coinage, seemed to have the effect of exacerbating social divisions. It is probably not coincidental that the republic was never restored after gold coinage became important in Rome.

Adam2 said...

Matt - you should post your comments on

Lord Keynes said...

This is a very good, informative post.

The Austrian/conservative idea that money debasement/inflation destroyed the Roman empire is pure myth.

In fact, the Eastern Roman empire (or the "Byzantine" empire) continued until 1453. The West lost most of its empire owing to invasions, and ended in 476 because of a simple palace coup when the last Roman emperor (Romulus Augustulus) was deposed.

Also, the Romans lost a lot of commodity money via a trade deficit with the East - so it quite unclear whether the gradual debasement of coins was "inflating" the money supply at all in many periods, as required by the quantity theory explanation of price inflation.