CHAPTER XVI
COINS IN RELATION TO HISTORY

So far as we have gone at present Greek art would seem to have very much to do with ideas, and but little with facts of history. Its message to us would seem to be concerned rather with the vivification than with the verification of the facts of Greek life. It rather displays to us the background against which the Greek race acted out its drama, than the plot of the drama itself. To correct what may perhaps be the excess of this impression, we will devote our final chapter to a brief consideration of the place taken in archaeology by coins.

The study of coins, numismatics, has sometimes been termed the Grammar of Greek Art. By this it is meant that of all classes of Greek remains coins are the most trustworthy, give us the most precise information, introduce us to the greatest variety of facts. As regards epigraphy, art, religion, commerce, they are monuments of the first importance. Their date and locality can be determined with greater precision than those of any other classes of remains, except the remains of buildings found in situ. Thus coins furnish, if not exactly a grammar, at least a valuable epitome or index of Greek art. Work upon them is perhaps the best possible introduction to archaeology. The student who takes this road avoids areas of controversy; he trains his eyes by the contemplation of works of unquestioned genuineness and beauty; he learns to think by periods and by districts. It is only practical difficulties, arising from

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