The Battle of Cannae was a major battle of the Second Punic War that took place on 2 August 216 BC in Apulia, in southeast Italy. The army of Carthage, under Hannibal, surrounded and decisively defeated a larger army of the Roman Republic

Analysis of Roman Coins Proves Roman Empire Got Rich on Iberian Silver

(Read the article on one page)

An analysis of Roman coins has revealed information about the defeat of the Carthaginian General Hannibal and the rise of the Roman Empire. The scientists who examined them suggest that the defeat of the Carthaginian general led to a flood of wealth across the Roman Empire coming from mines on the Iberian Peninsula in Spain.

Roman Coins Track Down the Fall of Hannibal of Carthage and the Rise of Roman Empire

A recent examination of Roman coins has revealed how the defeat of Hannibal and the Carthaginian Empire led to coinage spreading across the Roman Empire from silver mines in Spain, as Phys Org reports .

Hannibal was a Carthaginian general who fought against Rome during the second Punic war. His name became synonymous with inciting fear, and to this day he is considered one of the greatest military leaders of all time. As reported in a previous Ancient Origins article , Hannibal was born in Carthage (known as Tunisia today) in 247 BC to Carthaginian leader Hamilcar Barca. One of his most notable achievements was his crossing of the Alps into Italy, where he sought to join up with anti-Roman allies in the region.

According to many historical accounts he led the Carthaginian army and a team of elephants across southern Europe and the Alps Mountains to battle against Rome in the Second Punic War. There has been much scholarly debate as to Hannibal’s exact path through the Alps, but it is the consensus that the journey was treacherous.

Detail, Hannibal's Famous Crossing of the Alps with War Elephants

Detail, Hannibal's Famous Crossing of the Alps with War Elephants ( Public Domain )

During the Second Punic War, Hannibal defeated the Roman army in several battles, but never managed to capture the city completely. Eventually, Rome counterattacked and he was forced to return to Carthage where he was defeated. He worked for a time as a statesman before he was forced into exile by Rome. To avoid capture by the Romans, he eventually took his own life.

Geochemical Analysis Techniques Reveal New Information

Many centuries after the end of the Second Punic War and Hannibal’s downfall, the use of geochemical analysis techniques has helped modern scientists to prove the vast significance of the Spanish silver – owned by Hannibal before losing to the Romans – to the Roman Empire’s rise. As Phys Org reports , a team of scientists based in Germany and Denmark examined seventy Roman coins dating from around 310 to 101 BC. The coins were drilled at the rim to obtain fresh, untouched heart metal for the measurements. Using Mass Spectrometry , the scientists were able to show that lead in the coins made after 209 BC has characteristic isotopic signatures which identified most of the later coins as undoubtedly originating from Spanish sources. After 209 BC, the lead isotope signatures mainly correlate to those of deposits in southeast and southwest Spain or to mixtures of metal unearthed from these districts.

"Before the war, we find that the Roman coins are made of silver from the same sources as the coinage issued by Greek cities in Italy and Sicily. In other words the lead isotope signatures of the coins correspond to those of silver ores and metallurgical products from the Aegean region," researcher Katrin Westner told Phys Org . And added, "But the defeat of Carthage led to huge reparation payments to Rome, as well as Rome gaining large amounts of booty and ownership of the rich Spanish silver mines. From 209 BC, we see that the majority of Roman coins show geochemical signatures typical for Iberian silver."

A Carthaginian silver shekel depicting a man wearing a laurel wreath on the obverse, and a man riding a war elephant on the reverse, c. 239-209 BC ( CC BY-SA 3.0 )

Iberian Silver Changes Rome's Economic Status

The scientists have no doubt that the incredible flood of wealth across the Roman territories coming from mines on Iberian Peninsula played a significant role to the Empire’s economic rise, “This massive influx of Iberian silver significantly changed Rome's economy, allowing it to become the superpower of its day. We know this from the histories of Livy and Polybius and others, but our work gives contemporary scientific proof of the rise of Rome. What our work shows is that the defeat of Hannibal and the rise of Rome is written in the coins of the Roman Empire,” they stated as Phys Org reports . Furthermore, Dr. Kevin Butcher of the University of Warwick, said the project has verified what had previously only been speculation, "This research demonstrates how scientific analysis of ancient coins can make a significant contribution to historical research. It allows what was previously speculation about the importance of Spanish silver for the coinage of Rome to be placed on a firm foundation."


Nice article! You should write one more.
Here are two interesting facts related to Rome economy:

The sesterce was the currency of Rome." The annual salary of a soldier was around 1,200 sesterces. At the time of Christ, a bottle of wine sold for about 1 sesterce (about $1.60) and 10 million sesterces was equal to $16 million.

Denarii (singular denarius) were silver alloy coins. Aurei were gold pieces. The word denarius was shortened to dinars, the name of the currency still use in several Northern African and Middle East countries including Tunisia and Jordan.
Cool? That was my essay theme I have bought on review writing service.
And write more about the economic side of coins. I love to compare with modern "money".

Register to become part of our active community, get updates, receive a monthly newsletter, and enjoy the benefits and rewards of our member point system OR just post your comment below as a Guest.

Myths & Legends

The Green Man Legend
An enigma spanning thousands of years, the Green Man is a symbol of mysterious origin and history. Permeating various religious faiths and cultures, the Green Man has survived countless...

Ancient Technology

Grinding stone, Dendera Temple, Egypt.
Most people know of the great construction achievements of the dynastic Egyptians such as the pyramids and temples of the Giza Plateau area as well as the Sphinx. Many books and videos show depictions of vast work forces hewing blocks of stone in the hot desert sun and carefully setting them into place.

Our Mission

At Ancient Origins, we believe that one of the most important fields of knowledge we can pursue as human beings is our beginnings. And while some people may seem content with the story as it stands, our view is that there exists countless mysteries, scientific anomalies and surprising artifacts that have yet to be discovered and explained.

The goal of Ancient Origins is to highlight recent archaeological discoveries, peer-reviewed academic research and evidence, as well as offering alternative viewpoints and explanations of science, archaeology, mythology, religion and history around the globe.

We’re the only Pop Archaeology site combining scientific research with out-of-the-box perspectives.

By bringing together top experts and authors, this archaeology website explores lost civilizations, examines sacred writings, tours ancient places, investigates ancient discoveries and questions mysterious happenings. Our open community is dedicated to digging into the origins of our species on planet earth, and question wherever the discoveries might take us. We seek to retell the story of our beginnings. 

Ancient Image Galleries

View from the Castle Gate (Burgtor). (Public Domain)
Door surrounded by roots of Tetrameles nudiflora in the Khmer temple of Ta Phrom, Angkor temple complex, located today in Cambodia. (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Cable car in the Xihai (West Sea) Grand Canyon (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Next article