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Ancient Liquidity

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Denarius of Marcus Aurelius. Legend: IMP. M. ANTONINVS AVG. TR. P. XXV. By Rasiel at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=52490341

As part of a broader project on international security and finance, I wrote a bit about how financial regimes in the Ancient Mediterranean affected the Han Dynasty…

A better understanding of Roman finance helps to put that trade into political and social context. The consolidation of Roman control over the Mediterranean and the transition between the Republic and the Empire led to a massive increase in trade contacts between China and Rome. While the Han Dynasty in China was more densely bureaucratized than the Roman Empire, the Roman economy appears to have been more monetized than its Chinese counterpart. Pax Romana, such that it was, provided for the existence of a “financial commons” that enabled the development of sophisticated systems of credit and finance across the empire and beyond. These systems of credit helped foster and enable the trade with the Han Empire, even if relatively few Roman coins actually made their way into Han coffers.  

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