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ICS Ancient History Seminar 2017: Finance in the Greek and Roman worlds

The Institute of Classical Studies, Bloomsbury, runs an annual Ancient History Seminar in the Autumn Term. This year the theme, Finance in the Greek and Roman worlds, will be of particular interest to RNS members, with a number of papers tackling numismatic and monetary themes. Seminar meetings take place on Thursdays at 4:30 in South Block, Senate House, Malet Street, London. Seminar conveners for this season are Philip Kay of the Roman Society and Dominic Rathbone, King’s College London.

Lecture Schedule:

5th October: Jean-Jacques Aubert, Neuchâtel, ‘Law and financing trade’ (Room 349, South Block Senate House)

12th October: Manuela Dal Borgo, Cambridge, ‘Military finance during the Peloponnesian War: state vs household’ (Room 349, South Block Senate House)

19th October: François Lerouxel, Paris-Sorbonne, ‘Loans in kind and loans in cash in Roman Egypt’ (Room 349, South Block Senate House)

9th November: David Lewis, Nottingham, ‘‘Money’ and the supply of slaves in archaic Greece’ (Court Room, South Block Senate House)

23rd November: Sitta von Reden, Freiburg im Breisgau, ‘Currency exchange in the Greek and Hellenistic world’ (Room G35, South Block Senate House)

30th November: David Hollander, Iowa State, ‘Debt relief in the late Republic and early Empire’ (Room 349, South Block Senate House)

7th December: David Johnston, Faculty of Advocates, Edinburgh, ‘Law and commercial life of Rome’ (Room G35, South Block Senate House) [Joint event with Roman Law Seminar]

14th December: Michael Crawford, London, ‘Metal and coinage’ (Room G35, South Block Senate House)

Internship at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford

by Samuel Oer de Almeida,

Main entrance of the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology in Oxford

I am currently an undergraduate student of Classical Archaeology at the University of Tübingen in Germany. In August 2017, I completed an internship at the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology at the Heberden Coin Room in Oxford. During my two-week stay I participated in the Coin Hoards of the Roman Empire Project, which aims at collecting information about all coin hoards in the Roman Empire between 30 BC and AD 400 and making it publicly available for further studies through a digital database. The project intends to fill the major lacuna in digital coverage and documentation of ancient coin hoards.


Me while working on the coin hoards of Pompeii

During my internship I mainly devoted myself to the coin hoards of Pompeii, which are of particular significance since the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79 forms a fixed terminus ante quem for the dating of these hoards. Furthermore, the good state of preservation of the city allows the investigation of the largely undisturbed archaeological contexts of the deposited coins. Pompeii therefore provides an authentic picture of the deposition behaviour of its inhabitants, which can be placed into a broader perspective, for example in comparison to the coin hoards of other Campanian cities, like Herculaneum. I completed the processing of the hoards of Pompeii regio IX and several hoards of regio VI at the level of the individual coin, and made them publicly available online through the project’s web application (for an example of a presumed coin hoard of Pompeii found in regio IX, insula 14, in an atrium of a Roman residential building, click here). In addition, I helped to review the data of over 80,000 coins of the Reka Devnia hoard from northeastern Bulgaria, as well as improving the project’s guidance for contributors.

Finally, I got the possibility to attend a lecture of this year’s holder of the Kraay Travel Scholarship of the Heberden Coin Room, Dr Jack Nurpetlian of the American University of Beirut, about a die study of Caracalla’s Emesene tetradrachms.

I would like to thank the Royal Numismatic Society, which made my internship at the Ashmolean Museum possible by a grant of the Classical Numismatic Group Roman and Byzantine Fund, Professor Christopher Howgego and Dr Stefan Krmnicek for giving me the opportunity to work at one of the leading international coin cabinets and the academic staff at the Heberden Coin Room, especially Dr Simon Glenn, who kindly introduced me into the department and helpfully accompanied my work.

'Something for my native town': Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery, November 9th-10th 2017

Cotton to Gold: extraordinary collections of the industrial northwest‘, exhibition held at Two Temple Place, London, September to November 2015, featuring discoveries from the Blackburn collection.

by Rebecca Darley

Museums and stately homes across the country have numismatic collections which are often not widely known about. Indeed, museum collections of all kinds can lie forgotten or unseen due to changes in funding, curatorial interests or access to specialist expertise, only to be rediscovered – a new kind of buried treasure. In recent years the Money and Medals Network has been working with numerous collections across the UK to help curators and visitors make the most of their collections. Meanwhile, numismatic collectors and scholars have always been crucial to the creation and understanding of numismatic knowledge, often providing their time voluntarily through this Society and other numismatic societies across Britain and the world, or supporting collections local to them.

The Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery has been working tirelessly over the last five years to develop its facilities and raise awareness of its collections, which include world-class holdings of early printed books and manuscripts, as well as a magnificent numismatic collection, with especially good selections of Hellenistic, Roman and Sasanian material. Some of this material was exhibited in Autumn 2015 at Two Temple Place, London. ‘Cotton to Gold: extraordinary collections of the industrial northwest‘ (see review by Claudia Prtichard, The Independent here), focussed on the way in which industrial entrepreneurs in northern England often used their resources to build eclectic and fabulous collections of art and antiquities. These were then frequently left to their local town and city museums.

Building on this exhibition, the Institute of English Studies and Birkbeck, University of London, together with the Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery, and the University Centre at Blackburn College are pleased to announce an international conference on the R.E. Hart Collections at the Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery. ‘Something for my native town’ will take place on 9th and 10th November 2017. Beginning on Thursday 9th November from 4pm to 6pm at Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery there will be the official opening of the new Level 2 Collections Research Room and a chance to view manuscripts and coins from the Hart Collection with the museum Curators. On Friday 10th November there will be a Full day conference at University Centre at Blackburn College with a plenary lecture by Professor David McKitterick. Full programme to be confirmed.

More information about this exciting event and the opportunity to register to attend can be found here.

Conference Oltre "Roma medio repubblicana": il Lazio fra i Galli e Zama

Report on funds received from the Classical Numismatic Group Roman and Byzantine Fund

by Marleen Termeer

A Royal Numismatic Society grant enabled me to give a lecture on coinage production in Latium and the Latin colonies in the Middle Republic at the conference Oltre “Roma medio repubblicana”: il Lazio fra i Galli e Zama in Rome (Rome, 7-9 June 2017).

This important conference was organized, together with its counterpart on Mid-Republican Rome (5-7 April 2017), with the aim of bringing together a variety of sources and perspectives on the city of Rome and the Latin world from the beginning of the fourth to the end of the third centuries BC (more information available here). My lecture was one of two to focus on the numismatic material. I discussed the significance and the potential of the coinages of Latin colonies in Latium and beyond as a source for understanding the relation between Rome and the colonies. In addition, I was able to introduce the topic of a postdoctoral research project that I am currently preparing. This project will investigate the first (pre-denarius) Roman coins and contemporary Italic and Greek productions in relation to Roman state formation. It challenges the assumption of a strict relation between coin production and state authority in the Mid Republic, and instead develops and investigates the hypothesis that different actors produced coinages that were functional to, and sometimes even representative of, the Roman state.

My participation in this conference allowed me to make new contacts and get some important feedback, both on the general purposes of my research project and on specific source material and publications that are important in this context. In addition, it allowed me to develop a broader perspective on the coinages that I study, as many other contributors to the conference addressed similar themes, but based on other textual and material sources. Finally, I hope to have been able to communicate the importance of the numismatic material to address the broad theme of the developing relations between Rome and Italy in the Mid Republican period to an audience of ancient historians and archaeologists.

Key references

Burnett, A.M. 2012, Early Roman coinage and its Italian context. In The Oxford Handbook of Greek and Roman Coinage. Oxford U.P.

Burnett, A.M. & M.H. Crawford 2014, Coinage, Money and Mid-Republican Rome: Reflections on a recent book by Filippo Coarelli. Annali. Istituto italiano di numismatica 60, 231-265

Burnett, A.M. & M.C. Molinari 2015, The Capitoline Hoard and the Circulation of Silver Coins in Central and Northern Italy in the Third Century BC. In P.G. van Alfen, G. Bransbourg and M. Amandry (eds.) FIDES: Contributions to Numismatics in Honor of Richard B. Witschonke. New York: the American Numismatic Society, 21-119.

Cantilena, R. 2000, Nomen Latinum: la monetazione. Appunti per una discussione. In Gentes fortissimae Italiae. I Convegno sui Popoli dell’Italia antica. Atina: Centro di studi storici Saturnia, 41-56.

Coarelli, F. 2013, Argentum signatum. Le origini della moneta d’argento a Roma. Rome: Istituto italiano di numismatica

Rutter, N. K. (ed.), 2001, Historia numorum. Italy. London: British Museum Press.

Termeer, M.K. 2016, Roman colonial coinages beyond the city-state: a view from the Samnite world. Journal of Ancient History 4(2), 159-190

Summer School on Greek and Roman Numismatics – National Hellenic Research Foundation, Athens

Martin Hallmannsecker 

Thanks to the general support of the Royal Numismatics Society, I was able to attend the summer school on Greek and Roman numismatics organised by the National Hellenic Research Foundation, Athens from 3-12 July 2017.

The summer school was aimed at students of all stages with basic to no knowledge of numismatics and provided lectures on general topics (e.g. the invention of coinage, metrology, hoards, iconography) as well as on more specific matters (e.g. Archaic and Classical coins, Athenian coinage, Hellenistic coins, Roman and Roman Provincial coinage, online databases). In addition to that, we visited the most relevant numismatic collections of Athens (Numismatic Museum, KIKPE collection at the Benaki Museum, Alpha Bank collection, Akropolis Museum) where we were able to handle and even strike our own (plasticine) coins. Very helpful for the understanding of the production process of coins and the workings of Athenian economy was a field trip to the silver mines of Laurion which are usually closed to the public.


Especially the chapter of my DPhil thesis which is based on a reinterpretation of a series of bronze coins from the Antonine period will benefit greatly from what I have learned on this course. Now I feel more confident to put my findings into a larger context and am even considering to conduct a die study. I would definitely recommend this summer school to every student in ancient history who wants to get a comprehensive overview of the field of Greek and Roman numismatics.