Using Mass Spectrometry, they were able to show that lead in the coins made after 209BC has distinctive isotopic signatures which identified most of the later coins as presumably originating from Spanish sources.
After 209BC, the lead isotope signatures mostly correspond to those of deposits in southeast and southwest Spain or to mixtures of metal extracted from these districts.
The results means that before the Second Punic War, Roman silver came from mines in the Aegean region, but after 209 BC the silver coins were minted from mines in Spain.
“This massive influx of Iberian silver significantly changed Rome’s economy, allowing it to become the superpower of its day,” The Telegraph quotes study co-leader Dr Katrin Westner, of Goethe University in Frankfurt. “What our work shows is that the defeat of Hannibal and the rise of Rome is written in the coins of the Roman Empire.”
Image of a coin depicting Roman Emperor Severus Alexander (222 to 235 AD) by Steve Chatfield.