Striking coins in ancient Rome
Ancient coins were produced mainly through the technology of striking. The first step of the process was the casting of coin blanks in special forms, meanwhile carefully controlling the weight. The second step was the preparation of a coin die. It consisted of two parts normally manufactured in bronze or steel. One of them remained at the bottom and served as an anvil. The heated coin die was put on top of it and covered with the upper part of the die, which was then hit with a hammer. Engravers had to cut the images in mirror form on the two parts of the die, which required a great skill. This is why these masters were very well paid and sought-after professionals. A die would wear after the production of approximately 1000 coins after which it was replaced with a new one. Because engraving was a manual process, different dies always displayed some minute differences even though the image and the inscriptions on them could be the same. Coin dies were strictly guarded by the State to avoid the striking of fake coins. Production of fake coins was equal to state treason and treated as crimes like poisoning, arson, mutiny or kidnapping. Perpetrators were usually put to death, sometimes by being thrown to wild animals to be devoured.