Monday, November 10, 2008

Numismatics and Archaeology at the AIA

The joint 110th Annual Meeting of the AIA and 140th Annual Meeting of the APA will take place in Philadelphia from January 8-11, 2009. As usual, there are numismatically themed lectures and sessions.

Intensive study of coin finds in archaeological contexts and the application of cultural anthropological theories to numismatics are among important methodologies being developed and advanced in numismatics and archaeology. As I have stated before, much of the literature and research from this perspective has been applied by Germanic and Northern European scholars, isolating it somewhat from American and British schools of research. There are, of course, some individual exceptions with scholars like Kris Lockyear at University College London. One attempt at exposing these new approaches to a wider audience is the forthcoming volume I have mentioned before, which primarily contains methodological essays written in English:

H.-M. von Kaenel and F. Kemmers (eds.). 2008 forthcoming. Coins in Context I: New Approaches in Interpreting Coin Finds. Studien zu Fundmünzen der Antike 23. (Mainz: von Zabern).
I and my colleague, Stefan Krmnicek, organized a panel with similar goals which will take place at the 2009 AIA meeting. A number of speakers in our session also contributed to the forthcoming volume.

The preliminary program for our session has now been posted online and I welcome any readers who are going to the AIA/APA meeting to attend the papers in our panel. We have eight participants within our colloquium representing six different countries. The program of our session follows below. When abstracts are made available online I will reference these in a future post.

Session 6A

Contextual Numismatics: New Perspectives and
Interdisciplinary Methodologies
Saturday, January 10, 1:30 PM - 4:30 PM

Organizers: Nathan T. Elkins, Goethe Universität Frankfurt / University of Missouri; Stefan Krmnicek, Goethe Universität Frankfurt

Colloquium Overview Statement:

The participants in this panel expound innovative and dynamic approaches to the contextual study of ancient coins within an interdisciplinary framework. Coins have often been reduced to mere aesthetic objects or chronological refer­ences divorced from consideration of their original contexts in which they were once embedded. A multidisciplinary treatment of the individual dimensions of an ancient object (functional, social, historical, political, personal, etc.) provides a better understanding of its contemporary meaning. In the study of ancient art and culture, for example, modern scholarship has successfully applied such ap­proaches. Unlike most art objects, however, coins also have an equally strong prac­tical and functional quality, which must be investigated in conjunction with their other dimensions and within the wider context of material culture. Therefore, the numismatist ought to formulate proper methodologies that address these factors suitably.

Using the above methodologies and approaches, the first two papers in this panel explore the theoretical premises in which numismatics can be applied in a wider interdisciplinary framework. The third examines the relationship between hoarders and hoards, while the fourth considers the semantic value of certain coin types. The final paper reconsiders chisel cuts on Athenian tetradrachms in relation to function in light of hoard context. Fleur Kemmers, who has successfully ap­plied the concept of Bildsprache to coins from excavated contexts, and who is sen­sitive to the advantages of developing numismatic method and theory, provides discussion.

1. Session Introduction (Nathan T. Elkins, Goethe Universität Frankfurt/ University of Missouri)

2. Two Sides of a Coin: Etic Structures and Emic Perspectives in Numismatics (Stefan Krmnicek, Goethe Universität Frankfurt)

3. Working in Between: Numismatics as Historical Archaeology (Nanouschka Myrberg, Stockholm University)

4. Interrogating Ancient Coin Finds: What They Say, and What They Do Not Know (Georges Depeyrot, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique; Delia Moisil, National Museum of History of Romania)

5. Coin Imagery, Authority and Communication: the Case of the Later Soldier-Emperors, ca. A.D. 260–295 (Ragnar Hedlund, Uppsala University)

6. Chisel Cuts: Bureaucratic Control Marks on Fifth Century Owls in the Near East? (Richard Fernando Buxton, University of Washington)

Discussant: Fleur Kemmers (Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen)
On contextual material approaches to numismatics, one should also take note of the session which has been organized by Kris Lockyear for the 2009 Roman Archaeology Conference in Ann Arbor. That sesssion is entitled "Incorporating Coin Finds into the Archaeological and Historical Narrative."

The Friends of Numismatics have organized a session as well at the Joint Annual Meeting in Philadelphia. Their session, "Coins and Identity," is listed in the APA's preliminary program. The Friends of Numismatics typically host a reception (TBA) at the joint AIA/APA meeting for ANS alumni and friends.

There is no doubt that some individual presentations at the joint meeting will make extensive use of numismatic evidence, but we await the online publication of individual abstracts.
(Image: Reverse of a Constantinopolis commemorative follis struck in Cyzicus in AD 335 under Constantine the Great. From the excavations at Yotvata).



The preliminary program now shows our session as 6A on Saturday afternoon rather than 7C on Sunday morning. This is welcome news since Friday/Saturday sessions are typically better attended.

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