Thursday, May 28, 2009

Week 4: "Picture Language on Roman Coins: Aproaches and Interpretations"

I am in the midst of a load of work and so this will be a short post on this week's meeting.

We first began by discussing how the Lex Gabinia of 139 BC, which allowed for a secret ballot in elections, may have affected the character of Roman coinage from then onward (see links to handouts at the end of the previous post). While traditionally accepted as one of the prime causes for the change in the character of Republican coinage, we also discussed the article by Meadows and Williams which argues that general social and cultural trends were just as responsible. The authors argue that the period witnessed a growing culture of commemoration and monumentality which naturally affected the coinage.

We then discussed Alföldi's article which provided a general description and interpretation of coinage through the Republican period and examined them in terms of propaganda. We skipped over Toynbee's article and may address it in a future meeting.

We briefly discussed the section in Crawford's book about "Designs and Propaganda" which discusses textual cases where ancient coins are described and how they are used by ancient authors. There is also an interesting speculative discussion on what persona "chose" coin types. A good general reference. We then moved on to discussion of Shotter, who discussed the significance of coins in the study of Roman history and especially understanding coins in terms of ancient texts.

R. Wolters article was similar to Alföldi's as far as interpreting "propaganda" on coins, though his focused on the imperial period. Wolters, however, included more explicit methodology and critiqued the term "propaganda" and the role of Roman coin images.

Next time we will discuss reactions against the iconographic mode of inquiry and then some methodological reevaluations that followed (handout Deutsch - English). From there, in future meetings, we will discuss the potentials of approaching coin images from archaeological and art historical perspectives.

Apologies for the rushed post. Hopefully, I'll have more time to write about next week.