Thursday, September 06, 2012

Cost of stuff in Rome


Following up on the coins issue I found a very interesting article about the prices of stuff in ancient Rome.  These prices are for the year 301 AD.  The complete article can be read here.

First surprising finding is the usage of a common dinarii (denariicommunes). Which was actually a notational currency.  

A quote from the article:

All the prices and wages are listed indenariicommunes, which were not actually silverdenariias we usually think of when discussing ancient Roman coinage. Denarii communes, or d.c., were notational currency.  What this means is, an exchange rate was given, telling how much of the currency in circulation at that time (nummi) it took to equal one d.c.  This made it easy to change the value of the money in circulation, without having to rewrite and redistribute the entire edict.  A series of exchange tables are at the end of this handout.

I'll list some of the most interesting prices, but first some units:

modius = 8 liters dry unit
libra = 326 grams
sextarius = 546 ml

Common Food Items


Barley, Rye60 Denarii per Modius
Beans, Crushed100 Denaris per Modius
Beans, Whole60 Denarii per Modius
Beef, Mutton or Goat8 Denarii per Libra
Beer2 to 4 Denarii per Libra
Cabbage and Lettuce1 to 2 Quintarius
Cheese8 Denarii per Libra
Chickens30 Denarii
Eggs1 Denarius
Fish, River8 to 10 Denarii per Libra
Fish, Sea15 to 25 Denarii per Libra
Goose100 to 200 Denarii
Ham20 Denarii per Libra
Honey10 to 40 Denarii per Sextarius
Lentil Beans100 Denarii per Modius
Sausage10 to 16 Denarii per Libra
Olive Oil40 Denarii per Sextarius
Peaches1 to 2 Quintarius
Pheasant125 to 250 Denarii
Pork or Lamb12 Denarii per Libra
Rice, cleaned200 Denarii per Modius
Salt100 Denarii per Modius
Wheat100 Denarii per Modius
Wine16 to 30 Denarii per Sextarius


Common Wages


Artist, mosaic worker50 - 60 Denarii per day
Barber2 Denarii per customer
Bath Attendant20 -25 Denarii per day
Carpenter50 Denarii per day
Farm Laborer25 Denarii per day 
Fortune Teller20 - 25 Denarii per day
Fuller (Wool weaver)175 Denarii per cloak
Linen Weaver20 - 40 Denarii per day 
Manual Laborer25 Denarii per day
Messenger18 - 20 Denarii per day
Scribe1 Denarius per 5 - 7 lines
Secretary30 - 35 Denarii per day
Skilled Tradesman35 - 75 Denarii per day
Stone Mason50 Denarii per day
Teacher, elementary50 Denarii per month 
Teacher, advanced250 Denarii per month 


Soldiers' Base Pay:                

1800 Denarii per year               Praetorian Guard:         5500 Denarii per year
Annual Grain Annona:             600 Denarii per year
Donative (bonus pay 4 per year)             2500 Denarii
Grain allotment                      30 Modii of wheat per year


For the next article I'll be working up some prices for weapons and armor.  Stay tunned!




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