Ancient and Byzantine coins were almost always issued by the state, either in the name of the state itself or in the name of the ruler or some official designated by the state. In the Greek period, when the city-state was the main political unit, it was the city that issued coins. In Hellenistic times most coins were issued by the rulers of the kingdoms that were created after the death of Alexander the Great. In Roman imperial times most were issued by the empire, by the emperor himself or jointly by the emperor and the Roman Senate, although the Senate's consent was nominal (see nos. 71, 75-81, 84, 86, 88, 101, 103). The Hellenistic kingdoms and Rome sometimes granted individual cities under their power the right to mint their own coins, although only coins of lesser value.

The issuer determined the weight, type, and purity of the metal of the coins and also the types and legends stamped on them. It is likely that for Roman imperial issues the types would have been approved by the emperor himself. The state also would have specified at least a nominal value for the coin. The mints themselves were usually operated directly by the state, employing mostly slave labor. The state also retained the rights to any minerals in its own territories, although the actual mining of the ores may have been contracted or leased out.

THE METALS (Continues...)

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