Abstract: Manifest Gods: the Great Transformation in Hellenistic Coinage


The second century BC saw a radical change in the nature of civic coin design in the Greek world.  Where posthumous coins issued in the name of Alexander the Great had been the norm for many states in the late 3rd and early 2nd century, particularly in western Asia Minor, the middle part of the second century saw a shift back to more local iconographic programmes at many cities.  Suddenly, the dull monotony of borrowed royal types gave way to an explosion of civic exuberance, rooted in the religious and ethnic identity of the cities concerned. 

But this shift was not simply a return to the designs of the 5th and 4th centuries, it coincided with a paradigm shift in the nature of the representation of local divinities on coins.

This lecture surveys the spectacular new coin designs of the 2nd century BC and examines the great transformation in coin design against the background of contemporary royal coin design, recent work on the quantification of some of the issues concerned, the epigraphical evidence for the relationships between these cities and their deities, the interrelationships of civic and royal economies, and the broader historical circumstances faced by civic authorities in the 2nd century BC.


Short bibliography and/or website on lecture topic:

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Meadows, A. (2001) ‘Money, Freedom and Empire in the Hellenistic World’ in Meadows, A. and K. Shipton (eds), Money and its Uses in the Ancient Greek World. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Meadows, A.R. and Williams, J.H.C. (2001). ‘Moneta and the Monuments: Coinage and Politics in Republican Rome’, JRS 91, pp. 27-49

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