Station: [11] Mortarium

One of the most important exhibits of the Museum was found in the civilian settlement of Boiodurum: a fragment of the rim of a mortar. An inscription clearly states the purpose: ‘mortarium’. The English word ‘mortar’ is derived from this Latin term. The inscription also shows the price for this mortar: somebody paid half a denarius for it. The price gives us an idea of the purchasing power of Roman money around the year 200. Half a denarius, or two serstertii, was the average daily wage of a Roman auxiliary soldier. A legionary or a day labourer earned a little more: they only needed to work half a day to earn enough for such a bowl. This type of bowl was a relatively cheap mass-produced object in Roman times. A Terra Sigillata plate cost more than twice as much, while exotic spices had significantly higher prices. Have a look at the wage and price index to make some more comparisons.