Jan 22, 2022  
2021-2022 Catalog 
2021-2022 Catalog

CLA 456 - Minting Money: Coins, Politics, and the Economy in the Ancient World


Produced by the billions in antiquity, millions of ancient Greek and Roman coins still exist today. Coins are tangible pieces of ancient history, forming the largest category of surviving material evidence from the ancient world. In this course, we will examine the development of coined money in the ancient Mediterranean from its origins in the 7th century BCE through the 4th century CE. How and why were these objects made and circulated? What roles did coins play in ancient economic and political systems and in the everyday lives of inhabitants of the Mediterranean world? How can we use this rich body of evidence to investigate topics ranging from trade patterns to the architecture of monuments, from political propaganda to ritual practices, from mint output to specific historical events? What special data do coins offer the field archaeologist, and what special challenges do they pose for the cultural property lawyer?

In addition to surveying the types and uses of various coinages from the Greco-Roman world, students will be introduced to methodological approaches used by scholars studying ancient coins. These include die studies, analysis of coin hoards, archaeological inferences from coin finds, metallurgical analysis of coins, and statistical techniques. Students will gain hands-on experience applying these methods to the college’s collection of ancient coins during a “lab session” each week. They will also catalog the coins and contribute written and visual material for a virtual exhibition of the college’s coins.

Satisfies Classical Languages and Literature major requirement.
Satisfies Classical Studies major and minor requirement.

Prerequisites & Notes
Students at all levels welcome. (Not offered in 2021-2022)