Ancient History from Coins

Ancient History from Coins

Ancient History from Coins

Ancient History from Coins

Synopsis

This book introduces students to the techniques, methods, problems & advantages of using coins to do ancient history. The author provides a history of coinage & shows how the character, patterns & behaviour of coinage bear on major historical themes.

Excerpt

This book is intended for students and teachers of ancient history who want to know how the study of coinage can be of interest to them. Its aim is to show how the character, patterns, and behaviour of coinage bear on major historical themes, and to introduce the principal numismatic approaches by reference to some of the more cogent examples. In addition, it is hoped that individual chapters will be of some use as essays in interpretation for those who already have a knowledge of numismatics. The book covers the period from the beginning of coinage, one side or other of 600 BC, until the reign of Diocletian. Where appropriate it ranges backwards to look at the history of money before coinage, and onwards into the fourth century AD to bring out contrasts with what happened earlier.

The first chapter is concerned with money, an important branch of history for which coinage is naturally a major source (although documentary evidence is important where it exists, particularly for describing money-use). The second discusses some of the aspects of the production of coinage which are fundamental to an appreciation of how to use coins as an historical source. The central chapters explore the relationship between empires and local coinages as an aspect of imperialism, and the implications of political iconography for state ideology. The final two chapters are broadly economic. I had intended to write on trade rather than circulation, but it became increasingly clear that to do so was to prejudge important questions, and to circumscribe radically the range of issues which may be illuminated by the movement of coin. The final chapter looks at what may be learned from coinages under pressure, about the nature of financial and economic crises.

The treatment is thematic, therefore, and the focus is on historical topics. A sketch of the history of coinage is given in chapter 1, and . . .

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