Rome and etruria
Roman and Etruscan coins. In this region the legal tender that preceded the use of coins were castings or pieces of copper, followed by stamped bronze bricks (“aes signatum”) that bore depictions of various religious symbols. Dry branches and eagles were among the motifs used, but bulls were the most popular, and they recalled one of the earlier means of payment: in Latin, cattle was “pecus” – which is where the term “pecunia” (Latin for money) is derived, and which eventually lent us the modern English term “pecuniary” (financial, monetary). The first Roman coins were made from copper, and they were still cast. Later, when coins were beginning to be minted, other more precious materials were used. Among the specific, most common types of money issued are the denarius (silver, from the 1st half of the 3rd century BCE), the sestertius (first evidenced 211 BCE, originally minted in silver, then gradually in less precious metals), the copper aes (10 asses = 1 denarius). Starting in the 2nd century BCE the names of rulers and officials began to appear on coins, which makes it easier to date them. The motif on the reverse would be a ruler’s profile. The first Roman mint was established as early as 290 BCE at the Temple of Juno Moneta, which gave us some of our English root words for money. After the fall of the Roman Empire the system of coinage practically ceased to function and there was a return to barter and the use of commodities for commercial exchange.