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A CHRONOLOGICAL STUDY OF THE GREEK IMPERIAL COINAGE OF ATHENS BASED ON THE COLLECTION OF THE AGORA EXCAVATIONS AT ATHENS

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Publisher
ScholarlyCommons
Publication Date
Keywords
  • History
  • Ancient
Disciplines
  • Archaeology
  • Linguistics

Abstract

This dissertation is devoted to a study of the bronze coinage struck by the city of Athens during the 2nd and 3rd century A.D., a coinage known as the Greek Imperial coinage of Athens or as Athenian Imperials. The main problem which this study sets out to solve is one of chronology: unlike most coinages of the Graeco-Roman world, the Athenian issues do not bear portraits of the ruling emperors and, thus, are not easily datable. In the past, the stylistic parallels of datable issues from other cities were used to fix the chronology of the Athenian issues but these parallels proved to be most misleading. The only evidence which can provide a true picture of the chronological development of the Greek Imperial coinage of Athens is archaeological. This evidence comes in two forms, both of which are used in this study. The first consists of hoards which were buried in antiquity for safe keeping. The relative wear of the coins within the hoard gives a good idea of the relative chronology of the series and if the burial date can be reliably ascertained, a reliable terminus ante quem can be obtained for the coins within the hoard. The second form of evidence is derived from coins found in stratified levels during archaeological excavation. The coins are often found in context with datable artifacts, especially pottery, which can, in turn, date the coins.^ The primary evidence for this study comes from the deposits of coins and other artifacts uncovered in the excavations of the Athenian Agora. No other site has produced so many Athenian Imperial coins the contexts of which are so readily recoverable. All the relevant deposits of the first three centuries A.D. which contain Athenian Imperials have been included in this study. In all cases the evidence of the coins themselves for the date of the deposit has been eschewed in favor of the contextual material found with them. The evidence of coins and hoards found in places other than the Agora has also been used to help fix the chronology of the coinage as has the metrology and denominational system of the coins themselves. There is also a survey of Greek Imperial coinage in general and a survey of the history of Roman Athens in relation to its coinage. The study closes with a complete catalogue of all the Athenian Imperial coins in the Agora. ^

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