"Specialized Personnel": The Zygostatēs, the Solidus, and Monetary Technology in the Later Roman Empire
MetadataShow full item record
There have been few weighing officials in history more important than the zygostatēs was to the monetary economy of the Later Roman Empire. The creation of this office dates to 363 CE, when the emperor Julian decreed their appointment as formal intermediaries in disputes over the gold currency in circulation, the solidus. This meant that they were responsible for weighing and assaying coins in order to verify that they complied with the strict minting standards of the period. In fact, the establishment of the zygostatēs came at a critical time in the history of the solidus. The fourth century CE witnessed a massive growth in both the supply and use of gold coinage. This brought with it the broad stabilization of price levels expressed in gold as well as complications due to the properties of the solidus as a form of commodity money. In this respect, the Egyptian papyri are especially important because they illustrate how some of the functional problems of the solidus were mitigated by the presence of the zygostatēs. It is consequently vital to investigate the activities of these individuals as they relate specifically to the history of the solidus. This will show that the office of the zygostatēs was a necessary part of the success of the solidus and offer greater insight into the general nature of Late Roman fiscalism.