Identifying Roman Coins

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					                               Identifying Roman Coins
Part Four: Identifying your Coins                       (2 sessions probably needed—you may want to
hold these in a computer lab!)

Background Reading for the Teacher:
----Same as those listed for Part Three, in particular “Anatomy of a Roman Coin, Part 3 and “Ancient Coin
Identification Guide”
----Teacher should also spend time looking at images on the ACE CD and the online attribution sites (ACE
CD “Recommended URLs and ACE Website, “Bookmarks and Links: Ancient Coin Attribution Sites”
---Teacher may also want to read more about the background of Roman coins as summarized on ACE CD,
“John Ryan’s Talk on Ancient Coins,” “Mark Lehman’s ACE Lecture for NJCL Conference and on the
ACE Website, “Bookmarks and Links: Ancient Roman Coinage: Eight Hundred Years of Roman
Coinage” by David R. Sear.

----students’ coins and “Coin Data Recording Sheets”
----“Ancient Coin Identification Guide” (several copies to float around classroom)
----ACE Handouts, “Anatomy of a Roman Coin, Parts 1-4” (as seems appropriate by teacher, but in
particular, Part 3)
----ACE Handout “Roman Empire & Mint Map”
----one or more computers to run the ACE CD or to access on-line attribution resources, OR two days in a
computer lab

This segment will introduce students to the various features of Roman coins, such as the inscriptions,
portraits, reverse devices, mint marks, etc. Using the information they obtain from observing and recording
these features, they will try to identify the emperor during whose rule their coin was issued, as well as the
era and the city in which it was minted. This is another good session for photographing coins so that
students can ask questions of ACE numismatists on the Yahoo discussion group.

1. Using the “Anatomy of a Roman Coin” pages, explain these features to the students. Other sources on
the web have been listed at the site for more detailed inscription help.

2. After interpreting and recording the legends, the students should then be able to begin to identify the
issuing Emperor, with the help of the “Ancient Coin Identification Guide,” coin images on the CD and
website databases.

3. They should also try to identify the mint mark, if one is present, to determine where the coin was
minted. If a Greek character is present, it indicates the workshop, for example “E” {Epsilon} SIS as a
mintmark would indicate the Fifth workshop of the mint at Siscia (SIS). Greek characters were used for
numbers in primarily Greek-speaking areas, P, S, T, Q, etc in Latin speaking areas.

4. If students cannot decipher enough of an inscription on the obverse for attribution, they can often
identify the type of reverse of their coin. Illustrations on reverses are quite repetitive and stylized, and
depend less on inscriptions for identification. Refer to the “Common Reverses – Anatomy of a Roman
Coin III” handout.

We encourage students with questions they are unable to answer to post pictures of their coins at the website. Many experienced and talented numismatists and
historians will be glad to share hints and tips to help the students pin-down the trickier attributions that may
come up.
Coin Project
                     1)   Frequently Asked Questions
                     2)   Wages and Costs in Ancient Rome
                     3)   Roman Weights and Measures
                     4)   Coin Data Recording Sheet
                     5)   Anatomy of a Roman Coin
                      Part 1 Deciphering Coin Inscriptions from the 4th Century AD
                      Part 2 Deciphering Coin Images
                      Part 3 Common Obverses and Reverses
                      Part 4 Roman AE (Bronze) Denominations
                      Part 5 Evolution of Roman Coinage
                     6) Techniques for Coin Preparation
                     7) Ancient Coin Identification Guide
                     8) Map of Ancient Rome's Imperial Mints

Supporting Resources
                1) Timeline of Ancient Rome (courtesy of Dirty Old Coins *)
                2) Ancient Deities and Personifications on Coins,
                   (courtesy of Beast Coins *)
                3) Bibliography for Younger Audiences
                4) Bibliography for College Audiences
                5) Doug Smith's Coin Pages

Images of obverse and reverse coins:
RIC Volume VII - Constantine and Licinius

RIC Volume VIII - Family of Constantine (337-364 AD)

Ancient Deities and Personifications

Doug Smith’s Coin Pages

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Lingjuan Ma Lingjuan Ma MS
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