Experiments in Ancient Roman Coin Minting

Di Hu

Coins in the ancient times have had the utmost importance in terms of trade and economy. The coin brought many obvious advantages: it could represent the value of items that are unwieldy or rare. More often than not, they were master works of art. Given the incredible nature of these often-beautiful coins, one may wonder how the ancients created such coins without modern technology. More importantly, what larger implications about labor division and organization can we deduce from the different types of methods of minting known in the ancient times? Specifically, I propose to recreate the Ancient Roman minting process for two different time periods: crisis and stability. Crisis corresponded to the minting of debased silver coinage, whereas stability corresponded to the minting of pure or nearly pure silver coinage. Two methods used in the Ancient Roman era were the cold striking of coins and hot striking of coins. Since the Roman mints were primarily concerned about efficiency, an unprecedented experiment to find which method is preferable for each type of silver coinage might yield informative and perhaps surprising results.

See the project's companion website:

Below is a list of documents describing the fellowship in detail.

  • Methodology - Specific plans for striking coins like the Romans.
  • Supplies - What she will need to complete the research.
  • Progress, March 2005 - What Di has done so far, including some really nice photos of her reconstructions.