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Research Workshop: Money in Expanding Markets: Coinages after Alexander in the Mediterranean East


Admission requirements

This course is part of the MA History Programme. Students from within the specialization the course belongs to have right of way. It is not accessible for BA students.


The study of coins and money is called numismatics. Coinage is one of the best preserved sources of antiquity, and it offers a direct link and insight into the ancient world. This course will focus on the coinage that exists either temporally or politically outside an empire, specifically the Hellenistic coinages that followed the death of Alexander the Great, and the provincial Roman coinages from the time of the Roman Empire. It will provide students with an introduction to how to use the coins and their contexts for research.

In the first part of this course students will be introduced to the various numismatic catalogues and databases and equipped with the skills to read and interpret these, as well as learning how to identify and interpret the coins themselves. Special attention will be given to the various ways that different authorities presented their identity and message through the coins, in imagery, symbols, and legends as well as what the context of coins can tell us from an archaeological perspective. It should be noted that students do not have to be acquainted with any ancient languages.

In second part, the knowledge gained will be applied first to the coinage of the major kingdoms and city states of the Hellenistic Period and then the Roman Provincial coinages. Of particular interest will be how coin practices can link and evidence larger ancient historical debates on topics as diverse as economic function and cultural identity, as well as how these two specific coinages operate in their own expanding societies. For the final assignment, students will study the coin issues of a Ptolemaic king or a set of Roman provincial coins from an Egyptian mint, contributing to the ongoing Dutch Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum research project, under the supervision of the Dutch National Bank.

At the end of the course, an excusion will be planned to the Dutch National Numismatic Collection of the Dutch National Bank in order to handle the coinage we have learned about.

The course will start with a short entry test based on chapters 10 (Hellenistic coinages), 12 (Ptolemaic coinage), and 21 (Roman provincial coinage) of the Oxford Handbook of Greek and Roman Coinage, 2012.

Course objectives

General learning objectives

The student has acquired:

  1. The ability to independently identify and select sources, using traditional and modern techniques;

  2. The ability to analyse and evaluate a corpus of sources with a view to addressing a particular historical problem;

  3. The ability to independently formulate a clear and well-argued research question, taking into account the theory and method of the field and to reduce this question to accessible and manageable sub-questions;

  4. The ability to independently set up and carry out an original research project that can make a contribution to existing scholarly debates;

  5. The ability to give a clear and well-founded oral and written report on research results in correct English, when required, or Dutch, meeting the criteria of the discipline;

  6. The ability to participate in current debates in the specialisation;

  7. The ability to provide constructive feedback to and formulate criticism of the work of others and the ability to evaluate the value of such criticism and feedback on one’s own work and incorporate it;

  8. (ResMA only:) The ability to participate in a discussion of the theoretical foundations of the discipline.

Learning objectives, pertaining to the specialisation

The student has acquired:

  1. Thorough knowledge and comprehension of one of the specialisations or subtracks as well as of the historiography of the specialisation, focusing particularly on the following; in the specialisation Ancient History: unification processes in the Graece-Roman world, 400 BC-400 AD; insight into the recent large-scale debates in the field with respect to both the history of mentality and socio-economic history;

  2. Thorough knowledge and comprehension of the theoretical, conceptual and methodological aspects of the specialisation or subspecialisation in question, with a particular focus on the following; in the specialisation Ancient History: the comparative method; application of socio-economic methods; specialized source knowledge, in particular of documentary sources.

Learning objectives, pertaining to this Research Workshop

The student:

  1. will get acquainted with the broad context and development of Hellenistic and Roman Provincial coinages;

  2. will get acquainted with the theoretical and practical aspects of numismatic research methodologies, catalogues, and databases for Hellenistic and Roman Provincial Coinages;

  3. will be able to apply the acquired knowledge and research skills in their research;

  4. will learn how to contribute within a bigger research project.


The timetables are available through MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Workshop (compulsory attendance)

This means that students have to attend every session of the course. If a student is not able to attend, he is required to notify the teacher beforehand. The teacher will determine if and how the missed session can be compensated by an additional assignment. If specific restrictions apply to a particular course, the teacher will notify the students at the beginning of the semester. If a student does not comply with the aforementioned requirements, he will be excluded from the seminar.

Assessment method


  • Workshop portfolio, consisting of 6 weekly assignments and a reflection based on all course material (2000-3000 words)

measured learning objectives: 1-14

*Entry test

measured learning objectives: 1-7, 11


  • Written paper/portfolio/weekly assignments: 90%

  • Entry test: 10%

The final grade for the course is established by determining the weighted average with the additional requirement that the written paper must always be sufficient.


Assignments and written papers should be handed in within the deadline as provided in the relevant course outline on Brightspace.


Should the overall mark be unsatisfactory, the paper is to be revised after consultation with the instructor.

Inspection and feedback

How and when a review of the written paper will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the results, a review of the written paper will have to be organised. 

Reading list

  • Metcalf, W. W., (2012), The Oxford Handbook of Greek and Roman Coinage, Oxford

  • Thonemann, P., (2015), The Hellenistic World: Using Coins as Sources, Cambridge


Enrolment through MyStudyMap is mandatory.

General information about course and exam enrolment is available on the website.


  • For course related questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Huizinga.