Roman Economy Research Paper

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never before seen in the Roman Empire.159 After 235, emperors debased silver coinage, and raised taxes repeatedly to meet financial shortages hoping that windfall profits from military victories would make these measures temporary. The problem with this theory was that there 156 Jones, A. H. M. The Roman Economy. Edited by P. A. Brunt. (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1974), 83. 157 Tainter, 129. 158 Williams, Stephen. Diocletian: And the Roman Recovery. (London: B. T. Batsford Ltd., 1985), 20. 159 Tainter, 133‐4. 36 were no windfall profits to be had as wars were simply no longer profitable. Every emperor from Decius to Claudius II debased the silver antoninianus condemning his predecessors’…show more content…
161 Williams, 115. 162 S.H.A. Tacitus, IX. 163 Williams, 19. 164 Duncan‐Jones, 3. 37 antoninianus contained less than five percent silver.165 This meant that when imperial coinage actually was accepted, it was only done so well below its rated value. For example, from the time of the early empire to that of Emperor Gallienus, the price of wheat had risen over a hundred times, while during the same period a soldiers’ wage had barely doubled.166 The empire required extreme currency reforms and there is evidence that Emperor Aurelian made some progress in this area in 274. During his reign, Aurelian reconquered many of the previously lost Roman provinces and appears to have reestablished regular tax collection throughout the Roman world. He also made attempts at restoring the reputation of imperial coinage and he fixed rates of exchange to help roll back prices.167 The level of success of these measures taken by Aurelian is difficult to determine due to a severe lack of documentation that plagues the entire period of the Third-Century Crisis, but at the very least, the empire continued to hold itself together. One key explanation for the severe debasement of the coinage during the…show more content…
However, the mines known about today which existed during this period are primarily only the large-scale mining operations, and little is known about smaller-scale mining. This is because the mines that have been identified are largely those that have been reopened in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and only larger mines were worth the time and effort to reopen, and as such many small-scale mines have yet to be identified. Over time, easily obtainable ore from larger mines became exhausted and this very well could have led to 165 Tainter, 139. 166 Williams, 116. 167 Harl, 145‐6. 38 the development of numerous smaller mines. The current evidence seems to indicate that it is possible and even likely that a large number of smaller mines could have supplied much of the metal needs for the late empire, meaning that debasement was not just a side effect from a lack of raw metal.168 Severe shortages in raw metals, while they did occur, were more due to periods of instability than they were a cause of mining operations not having the potential to meet

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