Hello, everyone! My name is James Prosser and I am working this summer as a research assistant with Irene to start photographing and cataloging some of the over 40,000(!) ancient coins that are housed in the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology. Since I am helping out, Irene has offered to have me write a blog post to introduce myself and show the kind of work that is ongoing with the collection.
I am a PhD candidate in the Interdepartmental Program in Classical Art & Archaeology (IPCAA) at the University of Michigan. Originally from New York City, I earned my BA and MA in classical studies then classical archaeology at Tufts University in Boston. My main focus is on the Roman road networks of North Africa and their effects on social and economic changes in the region. I have excavated at a variety of sites in England, Spain, Italy, and France, but work primarily with the University of Michigan’s Gabii Project just outside of Rome since 2016.
My chief responsibility in working with the coins this summer is to photograph ancient coins and prepare the metadata for input into a database that is currently under development with the University of Michigan Library. Before photographing each coin, I input all the information from its sleeve, which typically has its inventory number and some other identifying information like the subject or time period of the coin. Then I place the coins into a specially made photo-light box that runs on a QuickPX program that photographs, measures, and creates easy-to-use obverse-reverse images in both jpeg and tiff formats. After photographing the coin’s two sides I then check the inventory cards of each coin and add any further information to the database.
On a final note, in working with the coins, I have often been asked if I have a favorite so far of the coins I have photographed. While an easy choice may be some of the fantastic gold coins or the ever-important Athenian Owls, I have found myself most drawn to a small, charming silver drachma from the island city-state of Aigina. This coin features a rather detailed land turtle on its obverse and a less ornate incuse punch with small details like a miniature dolphin on the reverse.