National Lecture Program

AIA Lecturer: Nathan T. Elkins

Affiliation: Baylor University

Nathan T. Elkins is Associate Professor of Art History (Greek and Roman) and Director of the Allbritton Art Institute at Baylor University, and holds his degrees from the University of Missouri (Ph.D.), The University of Reading, and the University of Evansville.  Professor Elkins’ research areas include Roman art, coinage and coin iconography, topography and architecture, sport and spectacle, and the illicit antiquities trade. He is the author of three books: A Monument to Dynasty and Death: The Story of Rome’s Colosseum and the Emperors Who Built It (JHUP, 2019), The Image of Political Power in the Reign of Nerva, AD 96-98 (Oxford, 2017), and Monuments in Miniature: Architecture on Roman Coinage (ANS, 2015). He is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, Fellow of the American Numismatic Society (New York) and of the Royal Numismatic Society (London).


The lobby of ancient coin dealers has popularized the glib mantra that ancient coins can be found anywhere, in order to argue against regulations at the federal level. While some coins did indeed circulate widely in antiquity, many coinages had much more regionalized or localized circulation patterns. Law enforcement and federal prosecutors have sometimes been reticent to pursue antiquities trafficking cases involving looted and smuggled ancient coins because of an unfamiliarity with the material and the false assumption that there is no way to identify a country of origin. With more than a decade’s experience of working with federal law enforcement and studying ancient coin circulation, I outline a methodology for working cases on ancient coins, identifying their origin, and discuss my experiences of working with federal law enforcement.

Short bibliography and/or website on lecture topic:

N.T. Elkins, “Ancient Coins, Find Spots, and Import Restrictions: A Critique of Arguments Made in the Ancient Coin Collectors Guild’s ‘Test Case’,” Journal of Field Archaeology 40.2: 236-243.

N.T. Elkins, “The Trade in Fresh Supplies of Ancient Coins: Scale, Organization, and Politics,” in P.K. Lazrus and A.W. Barker (eds.), All the King’s Horses: Essays on the Impact of Looting and the Illicit Antiquities Trade on Our Knowledge of the Past. (Washington, DC: Society for American Archaeology Press). 91-107.


See Nathan T. Elkins's work in the American Journal of Archaeology.

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