Elon Heymans

Early Greek Coinage: a Heterogeneous Innovation

Home > Projects > Early Greek Coinage: a Heterogeneous Innovation
Early Greek Coinage: a Heterogeneous Innovation

The invention of coinage in Archaic Greece constitutes one of the most tangible innovations of the ancient world, and, as such, one of the most pervasive aspects of our Classical heritage. Presumably invented in Lydia around 630 BCE, electrum coinage was quickly adopted by the Greek cities of western Anatolia, and by the end of the archaic period more than hundred independent Greek polities were minting their own coins, this time in silver. Coinage has been regarded as a revolutionary game-changer, and it is likely that its spread had far-reaching effects on different aspects of life.

Early coinage, however, was hardly uniform in its use and purpose. Some coinages were produced for international trade, such as those from Aegina, while other producers appear to have minted for local use, such as Kolophon. Taking off from the understanding that early coinage was heterogeneous as an innovation, this project investigates how coinage was anchored in existing practices and realities, notably the use of earlier forms of (precious) metal money. It does so by looking at different coinages and by placing these in their specific contexts of use in order to understand how local circumstances and long-term dynamics contributed to shaping the monetary landscape of early Greece.

Image: Classical Numismatic Group, Inc.

For more information about this project, click here (Dutch).