Nummi coins of the late reign of Anastasius I: in the right a 40-nummi coin (follis) and in the left a 5-nummi coin (pentanummium)

Nummus (Greek: νουμμίον, noummion), plural nummi (νοῦμμοι) is a Latin term meaning "coin", but used technically for a range of low-value copper coins issued by the Roman and Byzantine empires during late Antiquity.

In ca. 294, during the Tetrarchy, a new large bronze coin of ca. 10 grams weight and 30 mm diameter appeared. Its official name was apparently nummus, but it is usually known among numismatists as the follis.[1] The term nummus is thus usually applied solely to the 5th–7th century Byzantine issues. These were small, badly struck coins, weighing less than 1 gram, forming the lowest denomination of the Byzantine coinage. They were valued officially at 17,200 of the gold solidus but more usually rated to 16,000 or 112,000.[1] The nummus usually featured the profile of the reigning emperor on the obverse and the imperial monogram on the reverse, although some coins of Justinian I (r. 527–565) display its numerical value by the Greek numeral "A" instead.[1]

In 498, Emperor Anastasius I (r. 491–518) reformed the coinage by introducing multiples of the nummus, with denominations of 40 nummi, also known as a follis, 20 nummi (semifollis), 10 nummi (decanummium, δεκανούμμιον). These were also marked with Greek numerals representing their value: "M" for the follis, "K" for the semifollis and "I" for the decanummium. On the other hand, it appears that issue of the simple nummus was discontinued.[2] In 513, the weights of these coins were doubled, the pentanummium (πεντανούμμιον, 5-nummi coin marked with "E") introduced, and the minting of single nummi resumed.[3]

In 538/539, Emperor Justinian I introduced further changes to the 40-nummi follis, raising its weight to 25 grams. It was reduced again to 22.5 grams in 541/542, and further reductions followed until the century's end. At this time a new, 30-nummi coin (marked with "Λ" or "XXX") was introduced, but the single follis had ceased to be struck at Constantinople. It survived in the Exarchate of Carthage well into the 7th century however.[1][4] During the 7th century, the successive military and financial crises, led to increased reduction in the weight and a marked deterioration of the quality of bronze coinage: by the time of Constans II (r. 641–668), a follis weighed only 3 grams. Consequently, the denominations lower than the semifollis were practically unmintable and abandoned.[5] Thereafter the term nummus remained in use as a notional unit for 16,000 of the solidus, and in colloquial usage for "small change".[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e Kazhdan (1991), p. 1504
  2. ^ Grierson (1999), pp. 17–18
  3. ^ Grierson (1999), p. 18
  4. ^ Grierson (1999), pp. 18–19
  5. ^ Grierson (1999), p. 19


See also

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Nummus — (Numus, lat.), 1) Münze, s.d., z.B. Nummi missĭles, so v.w. Missilia 1). Daher Nummariae leges, römische Gesetze, welche auf das Münzwesen Bezug hatten, so Cornelia nummaria lex, gegen das Verfälschen der Münzen; u. Nummularii in den Münzstätten… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Nummus — (Numus, lat.), Geld, Münze; insbes. soviel wie Sestertius (s. d.) …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Nummus — (lat.), Geldmünze, insbes. der Sestertius (s.d.) …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • nummus — index money Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • Nummus — Nummi de la fin du règne d Anastase Ier : une pièce de 40 nummi (ou follis) et une pièce de 5 nummi ( ou pentanummium). Nummus (pluriel nummi) est un mot latin signifiant « pièce d …   Wikipédia en Français

  • TERNARIUS Nummus — seu Ternio, nummus aureus ternos simplices pendens, sub Heliogabalo in usu fuit. Ael. Lamprid. in Alex. Severo, c. 39. Formas binarias, ternartas etc. quas Heliogabalus invenerat, resolvi praecepit, neque in usu cuiusquam verari. Vide Notas… …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

  • Quinarius nummus — Quinarius mit Wertzahl V Der Quinarius nummus (Silberquinar) war eine Römische Münze. 211 v. Chr. wurde er als zweite Münze neben dem Denar eingeführt. Der Wert eines Silberquinars mit der Wertzahl V betrug 1/2 Denar bzw. 5 Asse und nach der… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Uncialis nummus — Uncialis nummus, so v.w. Dickgroschen …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Centenionālis nummus — (röm. Ant.), nach Ein. unter Heliogabalus Abgabe, die ein Centenarios gibt, nach And. Goldmünze von 100 Pfund …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • AEREOLUS Nummus — vide infra Chalcus. it. Obolus …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

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