In the year 280 BC Rome entered the Pyrrhic War. The battles were fought in southern Italy, where traditional Roman bronze coins were worthless. To pay for soldiers, weapons and other supplies, Rome thus urgently needed silver money. Hence the first Roman silver coins were minted in the Greek cities of southern Italy. Following the widespread Greek coin standard, didrachms were struck.
The obverse of this didrachm shows the helmeted head of Mars, the Roman god of (just) war. The reverse depicts a horse's head borrowed from Carthaginian coins and the legend ROMANO.