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Roman Didrachm

The didrachm was coined in Capua in 312 BC with a weight of 6,82 g. to allow the commerce with the cities of Greek area. Initially the coinage in silver was used more in south Italy, while the bronze coinage was diffused in Rome and central Italy. The themes used for the Roman didrachmas are similar to the ones in the Greek world, also for the inscription in Greek characters ΡΩΜΑΙΩΝ (Romans').

Since 286 BC the didrachm was coined also in Rome with the name of quadrigatus, name given by Plinio for the presence on the reverse of Jupiter on a quadriga driven by the Victoria, while on the obverse a juvenile laureate head of Janus is represented. At a later stage the inscriptions "Roman" or "Rome" appeared on the quadrigatis.

didramma didramma

Other silver coin minted since 221 BC was the victoriatus with a weight of 3,4 g; the name comes from the representation on the back of the Victory placing a wreath upon a trophy. The vittoriatus substituted the quadrigato because of its devaluation following the second punic war. The vittoriatus was substituted in turn by the denarius.

Arab coins

The inheritance of the didrachm continued after the end of the classical Greek and Roman era thanks to the Arabic coins named dirham. The dirham was a silver coin with a weight of 2,79 g., derived by the Greek drachm used in Bisanzio following the conquest of the Persian Empire by the Arabs. It was introduced as unity of account in 632, but the first real coin was coined by the Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik (685-705) in its 695/696 monetary reform.

The gold coin was the dinar, with a weight equal to the one of the Byzantine solidus (4,25 g). Multiple of the dinar was the estar (19,86 g) and the only submultiple was the robai, equal to a quarter of dinar from which was derived the tarì, name probably derived by “tarein”, meaning “Saracen”.

As copper coin was used the fulus, derived by the Byzantine and Roman follis.