THE ISSUING AUTHORITY
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,
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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