Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Week 8: "Picture Language on Roman Coins: Approaches and Interpretations"

A brief update.

In our eighth meeting we discussed "On the Semantic 'Value' of Coin Types: Statistical Evidence from Archaeological Sources" (handout Deutsch - English). We began by considering the methodology of Carlos Noreña's article in which he quantified the personification of imperial virtues from precious metal hoards and argued that certain ideas played a stronger role in the overall visual programs of different emperors.

There was some confusion about preparing discussion of Depeyrot's book and so I simply provided an overview of it; for our purposes it suffices to say here that it addresses the frequencies of certain types according to the Reka Devnia hoard.

In our wider discussion we looked at the benefits of using this methodology (esp. Noreña's) to understand the frequencies of particular reverse types as contrasted with die studies which are problematic for such things, as we discussed in Week 7. One of the problems with hoard evidence, however, is that most are predominantly precious metal hoards (at least the best recorded ones) and so bronze coins will be underrepresented, though such studies on the frequency of certain reverse types in various regions could be undertaken by examining the find corpora and inventories such as FMRD.

The final article we discussed was that by Kaczynski and Nüsse in the new book, Coins in Context I. Using a few case studies, this article probed the question of whether or not a personal "type selection" based on reverse type can be determined according to the third century coins found in sanctuaries. I will discuss this contribution in more detail when I get to it in my ongoing series of posts about the book's contents.

Next time will be our last meeting in which we will discuss the theme "The Importance of Archaeological Context: Nuances in the Semantic System and the Audiences for Coin Images" (handout Deutsch - English). This topic focuses on the insights that the archaeologically recovered coin finds give us into iconographic numismatic research, especially as regards the audience for coin images and individual responses to coin types. We will also end this meeting with a general discussion looking back at the numerous methods we discussed throughout the course.