Classics > Research > Research Projects > Roman Provincial Coinage in the Antonine Period

Roman Provincial Coinage in the Antonine Period

The ongoing project is based in the Heberden Coin Room, Ashmolean Museum, and has been funded jointly by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the University of Oxford. The aim is to produce a standard typology of the provincial coinage of the Roman Empire in the period AD 138-192, together with a commentary and introduction. The catalogue will be based on the ten most important and accessible collections in the world, and on all published material. This will be the first systematic treatment of the civic coinage at the height of the Roman empire, and will have great importance for the study of cultural, religious, political, economic, and administrative history at both a local and an imperial level.

Abydus coins

Abydus, AD 177-9. Bust of Commodus. Leander swimming the Hellespont to Hero, with Eros lighting the way. Plaster cast, in Oxford, of a coin in the British Museum. 1969-6-8-1

Roman coinage provides a major resource both for the historian and the archaeologist. A primary requirement is the provision of a standard typology on which both can rely. The Roman Provincial Coinage initiative will complement the now complete series of Roman Imperial Coinage, and result in the provision of a typology of all Roman coinage. The iconography and inscriptions of the provincial coins are full of wider interest. This is the period when for the first time the coinage displayed a marked interest by the Greeks in their past, real or imagined, which is so forceful a feature of the literature of the period.

Alexandrian coins

Alexandria (Egypt), AD 139/140. Head of Antoninus Pius. Bust of Sarapis on colossal foot. American Numismatic Society 1935-117-783

The extent to which coinage was used to define and display identity is also of considerable significance. The epigraphy of the coinage includes imperial names and titles, names of imperial officials and members of the local elites (including sophists), and the magistracies they held. The coins are a vital source for relationships between cities, both of rivalry over titles and of 'alliances'. The iconography is immensely rich for topics ranging from mythology and religion to the presentation of the emperor. The provincial coinage is also a vital source for the study of monetisation in the Roman world.

Published regional studies and monographs on individual mints have been incorporated into the database, in addition to the holdings of the ten 'core collections'. Since October 2006 the project data, 46,725 specimens representing 13,729 coin types from 388 mints are available online at http://rpc.ashmus.ox.ac.uk. Conventional publication will be through British Museum Press and the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. In advance of final publication many of the key themes of the project have been discussed in C. Howgego, V. Heuchert, and A. Burnett (eds.), Coinage and Identity in the Roman Provinces , Oxford University Press, 2005.

Further details

Director: Dr Christopher Howgego and Dr Volker Heuchert

Contact details:

Roman Provincial Coinage in the Antonine Period
Heberden Coin Room
Ashmolean Museum
Oxford
OX1 2PH

Tel: +44 (0)1865 278063
Fax+ 44 (0)1865 278057
E-mail: chris.howgego@ashmus.ox.ac.uk

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