RNS Grant Report: Roman Provincial Coinages under Gordian III (AD 238-244) and Philip the Arab (AD 244-249)

By Marguerite Spoerri Butcher, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

Vienna, outside the Kunsthistorisches Museum

The Roman Provincial Coinage series, initiated by Dr Andrew Burnett (London) and Dr Michel Amandry (Paris), intends to provide an authoritative account of all the coins minted in the provinces of the Roman empire. These coins provide a unique insight into local politics, culture and religion of the eastern, Greek part of the empire. So far, five volumes have been published on paper since 1992 and a lot of the material is now available online at: http://rpc.ashmus.ox.ac.uk.

An international collaborative approach has been chosen in order to address coinages minted under Gordian III and Philip the Arab, covering the period between AD 238 and 249 and resulting in the publication, both online and on paper, of RPC volumes VII.2 and VIII. The team consists (in alphabetical order) of M. Amandry, R. Bland, K. Butcher, J. Mairat, J. Nollé, J. Nurpetlian, U. Peter and M. Spoerri Butcher. Together with J. Mairat, I am responsible for the editorial work on the dataset and the printed volumes.

Thanks to the generous support of the RNS (with funds provided by the CNG Roman and Byzantine Fund and the Martin Price Fund for Ancient Greek Numismatics), I was able to go to Vienna in October 2018 and record material for our team of researchers. The Münzkabinett at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna is one of the 10 core collections of the RPC series and I received a very warm welcome by Dr Klaus Vondrovec, curator of the collection of ancient coins. During the week I worked there, I am extremely pleased to say that I was able to photograph and record all the coins needed for our research project, a whopping 1,981 specimens! Holdings for Thrace, Moesia Inferior, but also Lydia and Phrygia proved to be quite rich.

Vienna, Institut für Numismatik und Geldgeschichte

I also spent two days at the Institut für Numismatik und Geldgeschichte (University of Vienna). The institute, directed by Prof. R. Wolters, holds a very rich card index derived from sales catalogues. I could photograph all the cards pertaining to the reign of Philip the Arab, and half of the ones of the reign of Gordian III (3,700 in total). This will constitute an excellent documentation that we can easily complement with holdings from the Sackler library in Oxford.

Vienna is not only a beautiful and vibrant city, but also hosts a variety of numismatic talks and events throughout the year. While I was there, I was able to attend the public lecture that Dr W. Fischer-Bossert (Austrian Academy of Sciences) gave on ‘Hermeneutik griechischer Münzbilder’ as part of his habilitation examination. Congratulations to Dr Fischer-Bossert for the award of his new academic degree! 

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