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Where did the Romans get the silver to make the Denarius?

After defeating Carthage, Rome became the dominant power in the western Mediterranean. With access now to the Carthaginian silver mines in the Iberian Peninsula, today’s Spain and Portugal, the Roman economy experienced unprecedented expansion. In addition, the Romans acquired Carthaginian silver as war booty and as indemnities paid by Carthage. And so, after the Punic Wars, silver came to be widely used as the basis for a standardized currency in the Mediterranean world.

Scientists have been able to confirm that the silver used in Roman coins came from the mines once owned by Carthage. They have compared the chemical profile of the silver in the denarii with the silver mined in Iberia and found them to be identical. Before defeating Carthage, Roman silver came from the Greek colonies in Magna Graecia.

Still artisans had problems getting that silver. In The Deadliest Lie, Miriam tells us how she’d listen to Judah as he explained his plans for his jewelry business:

Sometimes, when his shop wasn’t busy, we’d talk. The vibrations of his voice would diffuse through my body when he, with an easy optimism, would tell me of his plans to manufacture his own gems and precious metals rather than import them, the gems from India and the ingots of silver and gold from Spain.

Pirates preyed on the ships that brought the ingots of silver and gold from Spain to Alexandria. And so, Judah began his work as an alchemist to manufacture the precious metals himself. Fortunately, pirates today are not likely to steal your copy of The Deadliest Lie. So feel free to order it click here.


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