Meetings 2023-24

Programme of lectures
Meetings take place from 6-7:30pm at the Society of Antiquaries of London, who also have the facilities to broadcast all lectures as hybrid events over Zoom.

*Please note that the November and February meetings will be held on Zoom only*

Zoom link for all meetings 2023-24:
Meeting ID: 829 6725 6285
Passcode: 295843

9th October 2023 (6:30pm). Graham Barker: ‘How the coinage of Carausius, rebel emperor of Britannia, became so popular in 18th century Britain and the story of Oriuna, the empress who never was’

Abstract Carausius had been put in charge of the Roman fleet in the Channel by Maximian. In AD 286 he rebelled and declared himself emperor of Britannia. He took with him the major part of the Roman fleet in northern Europe and units from at least ten different legions. Carausius started minting coins in northern Gaul before declaring himself emperor; some of the designs only appear on what became known as his “Rouen mint.” His coinage is prolific and wonderfully varied and indicates a carefully planned rebellion with claims, based on classic Roman literature, that were consistent with those of legitimate Roman emperors. In 18th century Britain his coins became highly desirable and auction records show that Carausius coins fetched some of the highest prices of any Roman coins. Antiquarian societies of the age devoted much time to discussing the story of Carausius and his coinage. This paper explores the reasons for the popularity of Carausius in Britain at this time and tells the extraordinary story, through coinage, of Oriuna, the empress who never was

20th November 2023. Lauren Morris [ZOOM]: ‘In pursuit of forgotten context: the Begram hoard and Kushan coinage from an archaeological perspective’

Abstract The post-nomadic kings of the Kushan Empire (ca. 50-350 CE) – which once stretched from southern Uzbekistan to northern India – produced vast coinages that have provided a crucial basis for the reconstruction of Kushan history. Yet, archaeologically oriented studies on the use and deposition of this coinage remain limited, a fact certainly informed by the variable and limited information that is typically available about their precise find contexts. This talk explores what insights we can nonetheless gain in such circumstances about how Kushan coins were used in Central Asia, why they were deposited into the archaeological record, and what this can tell us about broader historical phenomena. First, I consider the role of coins and insights gained from comparative studies of coin hoards in re-examining the imperfectly documented Begram hoard, being a series of deposits of largely imported prestigious and luxury goods found during French excavations in the 1930s at Begram in Afghanistan. Second, I present some case studies of past coin finds from Uzbekistan and Tajikistan that shed light on various political, economic, and ritual phenomena. Finally, I outline some current approaches to dealing with coin finds in the field, and challenges facing future work.

11th December 2023. Medallist’s Lecture, followed by Christmas party.

Shin’ichi Sakuraki, RNS Medallist for 2023: ‘Numismatic archaeology in Japan: a personal retrospective’

Abstract In this talk I shall begin with my studies of coin finds in Japan and go on to outline the expansion of my research to include coin finds in Vietnam and elsewhere in East Asia. Thanks to the opportunity to spend a year at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, I began to collect data on Japanese coins in European museums such as the British Museum, the Ashmolean Museum and the National Museum of Denmark. Using examples from these and other collections, as well as single-finds and hoards found in Japan, I shall explain some of the particular features of coinage in Japan, and finally, with a brief discussion of the contributions of science to the metallurgical analysis of coins, conclude with a look at possible future developments. 

15th January 2024. Alex Fang: ‘The Rise of Chinese Numismatic Charms Seen through the Spink Auction of the Dr Burger Collection’

19th February 2024. Early Career Lectures [ZOOM]: Speakers TBC

18th March 2024. Rory Naismith: ‘Making Money in the Early Middle Ages’

15th April 2024. Wendy Scott: ‘The Lenborough Hoard Project’

20th May 2024. Leah Lazar: ‘The CHANGE Project’

17th June 2024. Presidential Address: Martin Allen.
Followed by the Summer Party