Seminar: Coins and the City

Coinage as a historical source from Antiquity to the Early Modern period: the case of Rome

Date: 20-30 September 2019

Deadline for applications: 1 July 2019


Course Content 
Roman coins provide glimpses into the urban past: they often bear images of buildings and
monuments that stood, and are sometimes still standing, in the city of Rome. Similarly, Early
Modern papal medals also display ancient and contemporary architecture as well as views of
the entire urban landscape. This course deals with the use of these particular coins and medals as historical sources. Consisting of material, iconographic and textual evidence, all merged in one object, coins and medals offer a wealth of information to historians of all periods in which they were used. This course challenges students to decipher and interpret the information these exceptional sources provide, with a specific focus on the social, political and cultural history of the city of Rome in Antiquity and the Early Modern period.

By way of example, consider this aureus from the reign of Emperor Severus Alexander, with the head of the emperor on the obverse, and an image of the Colosseum on the reverse. Why does the amphiteatrum flavium figure on a 3rd century coin? Why is the coin made out of gold? Are there other, similar coins? And what does this coin tell us about the Colosseum in the third century, two centuries after it was built?

In this ten-day course in Rome the following questions will be addressed: What is the
significance of the images on the coins and medals in the specific historical context in which
they were produced? How were the images of the coins and medals perceived by their users?
How can we connect the information that the coins and medals give us with other material
and textual sources? What are the similarities and differences between ancient Roman coins
and papal medals regarding the ways in which we can use them as a historical source?
The course will provide students with theoretical knowledge on the use of coins and medals as a historical source, as well as on different numismatic methods. In addition, practical
knowledge about coin production and skills in coin identification will be gained through
workshops and ‘hands on’ sessions in museums.

Drs. Paul Beliën (Amsterdam), Dr. Liesbeth Claes (Leiden), Dr. Nathan Elkins (Baylor), Dr.
Martin Hirsch (München), Prof. Dr. Fleur Kemmers (Frankfurt am Main), Dr. Erika Manders
(Nijmegen), Dr. Marleen Termeer (Amsterdam)

Coordinator KNIR
Dr. Tesse Stek

Target groups
MA-, RMA- and PhD students in (Ancient) History, Art History, Classics and
Archaeology from the KNIR partner universities (UvA, VU, UL, UU, RU and RUG) as well
as from German universities. The course is part of the OIKOS education program for PhD
students. No specific knowledge of Greek or Latin language is required.

Course material
Will be made available some weeks before the start of the course.

The study load is the equivalent of 5 ects (140 hours) and comprises ten days of study in
Rome. Each student should arrange with his/her university whether the course can be part of
the existing curriculum. Upon successful completion of the course, the KNIR will provide a
certificate mentioning the study load and evaluation tools.
The study load is based on:
– Before arriving in Rome: independent study of course material: 1 ECTS (28 hours)
– Seminars and workshops in KNIR and DAI, excursions and museum visits in Rome:
active participation: 2 ECTS (56 hours)
– Individual research & study for presentation on site in Rome and paper: 2 ECTS (56

Application and admission
The master class is a selective course with a maximum of 15 participants. The selection of
(R)MA students is based on grades, the positioning of the course in the student’s curriculum,
and a letter of motivation. The selection of PhD students is based on the letter of motivation
and curriculum vitae.
Students can apply via the link below. Include in your application:
– a letter of motivation
– a cv
– for (R)MA students: a recent list of grades officially provided by your university

Deadline application
1 July 2019

All Dutch and German students receive support from the KNIR or DAI for their travel costs
and accommodation.

More information
Drs. P.A.M. Beliën (De Nederlandsche Bank):
Dr. L. Claes (Leiden University):
Dr. E. Manders (Radboud University):
Dr. M.K. Termeer (University of Amsterdam):