The Monetary Systems of the Han and Roman Empires
59 Pages Posted: 26 Feb 2008 Last revised: 10 Jun 2009
Date Written: February 2008
The Chinese tradition of supplementing large quantities of bronze cash with unminted gold and silver represents a rare exception to the western model of precious-metal coinage. This paper provides a detailed discussion of monetary development in ancient China followed by a brief survey of conditions in the Roman empire. The divergent development of the monetary systems of the Han and Roman empires is analyzed with reference to key variables such as the metal supply, military incentives, and cultural preferences. This paper also explores the "metallistic" and "chartalistic" elements of the Han and Roman currency systems and estimates the degree of monetization of both economies.
Keywords: Rome, China, Comparative History, Money, Monetary History, Coinage
JEL Classification: E42, N00, N20
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