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Showcase: Australian Centre for Ancient Numismatic Studies Junior Research Fellow and HDR Student Research

By Departmental Research Seminar

Tuesday 23 Oct (Week 11), 2-3.30pm

Seminar Room - Museum of Ancient Cultures (Level 3 - 29 Wally’s Walk / Former X5B building)

The Department of Ancient History in conjunction with the Macquarie University Ancient History Association (MAHA) offers a research seminar series, intended to bring together those within Macquarie and outside who have an interest in the languages, histories, and cultures of the ancient world. View the schedule for the research seminar.

All are welcome! Please arrive on time and join us after the seminar for coffee, tea and biscuits!

Convenor: Dr Alexandra Woods Twitter


The Australian Centre for Ancient Numismatic Studies (ACANS) is an internationally recognised leader in the study of ancient numismatics. The centre is one of the few university-based institutions in the world which offers facilities and financial support for the study of this discipline. Among its resources are a dedicated numismatic library with extensive journal holdings (in addition to the resources of the university library for the teaching of ancient history). The centre’s numismatic collections, numbering over 5,000 coins, are of world class standing in the areas of the Greek cities in South Italy, the Roman Republic, and the coinages of the Emperor Hadrian.

Each year, a ACANS Junior Research Fellowship is available to students who have obtained a BA in ancient history, archaeology or classical languages. The fellowship is intended to assist students learn about numismatics with a view to developing wider research strategies.

The 2018 Research Fellow, Luke Burgin, will present a paper on his research Fellowship project and HDR candidate, Charlotte Mann, will present on her current research.

Luke Burgin

  • Multi-Portrait Imperial Coins: Politics of Acceptance AD 286-324
  • This numismatic research project will examine Roman coinage from AD 286-324 that feature more than one imperial portrait. Even during periods where a system of multiple emperors was the standard, Roman coins traditionally only represented a single portrait on them. Therefore, coins that display more than one portrait as the main design of the coin type are significant and must represent a very deliberate political message by the minting authority. The aim of this project will be to collect and analyse examples of this phenomenon during the years AD 286-324, explore their purpose, and place them into the historical narrative. Minting a coin with the portrait of another emperor intrinsically implies a level of acceptance into the imperial college. Minting a coin with two portraits together however, represents a stronger association that needs to be studied more closely. These often rare series of coins provide a unique glimpse into the dangerous world of late Roman politics from this period that the literary sources do not provide. This paper will discuss the series of coins that engage in this practice and attempt to explain why they exist.

Charlotte Mann

  • Spent or Saved? The Circulation of Festival Coins Struck for the Eleusinian Mysteries
  • The bronze coins produced for visitors to the Eleusinian mysteries between 355-299 BCE constitute a small, but intriguing, subset of Athenian currency. Struck with Eleusinian ritual imagery and the ethnic ‘of Eleusis,’ these coins raise questions concerning deme administration, festival organisation and mint management in Classical Athens that are of interest to historians and numismatists alike. This study explores the role of Eleusinian festival coins within the ancient Greek economy. What happened to these festival coins when the mysteries were complete? Did they maintain an economic role, entering general circulation, or were they demonetised and discarded upon the festival’s conclusion? Or, alternatively, was the monetary character of festival coins superseded by their sacred associations, causing them to be withdrawn from circulation and saved as momentos or votive offerings to the gods? This project uses excavation reports, hoard data and museum collections to gather and map the movement of Eleusinian festival coinages throughout the cities and sanctuaries of Greece. The data assembled presents an image of festival currency that contradicts the behaviour expected of low denomination coins. Unlike civic bronze pieces, that are expected to remain within the city of issue, festival bronzes are found in cities far beyond Athens and its territories, proliferating commercial areas and small cash hoards, while being noticeably absent from burial sites, temple inventories and votive deposits. The resulting impression, that Eleusinian festival coins maintained an economic, rather than a sacred or commemorative character, offers new insights into the use of small denomination currency and the ‘tokenality’ of ancient coins.

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Departmental Research Seminar

The Department of Ancient History in conjunction with the Macquarie University Ancient History Association (MAHA) offers a research seminar series, intended to bring together those within Macquarie and outside who have an interest in the languages, histories, and cultures of the ancient world.