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Ancient World Seminar: Marleen Termeer (Leiden), "Heads or Tails? Early Roman expansion and the introduction of coinage"

Wanneer:ma 16-04-2018 16:15 - 17:30
Waar:Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies (Oude Boteringestraat 38), Court Room
Poster lecture Marleen Termeer
Poster lecture Marleen Termeer

Heads or tails? Early Roman expansion and the introduction of coinage

Look at a coin from your pocket. On one side is “heads”- the symbol of the political authority which minted the coin; on the other side is “tails” - the precise specification of the amount the coin is worth as payment in exchange.

Hart 1986, 638

The earliest Roman coins were produced surprisingly late. They date to the late fourth century BC, about three centuries after the introduction of coinage in the Aegean. The adoption took place in the context of Rome’s first large-scale expansion on the Italian peninsula, and seems to be related to increased military activity in this period. In this context, coin production in Italy as a whole intensified, with many communities in Italy minting their own coinages.

In this lecture, I will ask how we should understand coinage as a social and cultural phenomenon in this context. Do coins work in the same way as described in the quote above? In a context where Rome is only starting to establish its power on the Italian peninsula, and many different communities produce their own coinages, what is the relation between state authority and coinage? And how was coinage used? Was it adopted as a widely used currency, or was the function of coinage more restricted? These questions are at the core of a research project that I am currently initiating, and which I will present in this lecture.

Marleen Termeer is a lecturer in Classical and Mediterranean Archaeology at Leiden University. After finishing her PhD at the University of Groningen in 2015, she started to work in Leiden as a postdoc in the Landscapes of Early Roman Colonization Project (LERC). In these contexts, her research has focused on cultural and socio-political changes in Mid-Republican Rome and Italy, a formative period in the development of the Roman world. She is now preparing a project on early Roman coinage from this perspective.