Aurei in Egypt: Karanis Hoard 4

A hoard on display in the Kelsey Museum has been on my mind lately. Hoard 4 from Karanis, containing 60 Roman aurei, was found in a courtyard of B11, a second-century house at the site. The hoard had originally been stored in a cloth bag, whose only remnants were traces of mesh weave left in the soil around it. Some textile remains from a cloth bag were found nearby, possibly part of the original bag that held the coins (Haatvedt and Peterson 1964, 14–15).   Twenty-two coins were retained by […]

Hellenistic Currency Systems in the Kelsey: The Ptolemies, Part II

Last post we talked a little bit about the closed currency system instituted by Ptolemy I in Egypt in the late 4th century BCE. We talked about how such a system allowed the Ptolemies to control the amount of precious metals in their economy, particularly silver, an element that does not occur naturally in the Egyptian territory, and the metal out of which the international currency of the time was made — the Attic silver standard (for a more detailed analysis on the implementation of a closed currency system by […]

Hellenistic Currency Systems in the Kelsey: The Ptolemies, Part I

As you all know, I have been getting to know the Hellenistic coinages at the Kelsey this month, and I thought it could be interesting for me, a Late Antique person, to have a refresher course on the history of Hellenistic coinages via this blog. Thus, for the next few months, in no particular order, I will write some introductory posts on the Ptolemaic, Seleukid, Macedonian, and Pergamene kingdoms, with special emphasis on the nature of their currency systems (i.e., open, closed, etc.) There are coins in the Kelsey’s collection […]

Alexander in the Kelsey

In the last post I said we would talk about closed currency systems, but as I started studying the Hellenistic coinage in the collection (323–31 BCE), it became clear I needed to talk about a couple of interesting Alexander-type issues in the Kelsey and their history. I am not a Hellenistic numismatist, but fortunately for all of us, there is a substantial amount of current research on Hellenistic numismatics that continues to open major avenues of investigations and inspire numismatists and ancient historians alike. In the study of Hellenistic coinages, […]

Appadurai and Roman Provincial Coinage: Musings on Theoretical and Practical Resources

Today I would like to share with everyone, in case it is not already evident, the inspiration behind the name of the blog. The title is an homage to Arjun Appadurai’s seminal book, The Social Life of Things: Commodities in Cultural Perspectives, which is a compilation of essays by anthropologists who explore through different historical and cultural instances the politics of assigned value via the study of objects themselves. This book was assigned to me in classes as an anthropology major when I was an undergraduate, as well as in […]