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Numismatics of the Ancient World


Admission requirements

Not applicable.


Coinage is one of the best preserved sources of antiquity, and it forms a direct source of the ancient world. After a brief overview of the emerge of coinage and how the different monetary systems developed in the ancient world, this course will introduce the students how they can determine and analyse coin material. Through this thorough introduction, students will be able to look up and to use the different the several seminals, journals, catalogi and online database which exists in the field of numismatics. At this stage, an excursion to the National Bank of the Netherlands will be of great value in order to explore their extensive numismatic library and ancient coin collection.
A separate workshop will make the students familiar with the determination of coins. Furthermore, special attention will be given to the various abbreviations and symbols used in numismatic handbooks and on coins. Here, it must be noted that students do not have to be acquainted with the Greek of Latin language.

A second part of the course will question how valuable coinage can be for studies dealing with economics, monetarism, religious life, and imperial propagation. Here, the advantages and disadvantages of coin hoard studies will be thought during two workshops, from which the students can set up their own research exploring a freely chosen topic .

Course objectives

General learning objectives
The student has acquired:

    1. The ability to independently identify and select literature, using traditional and modern techniques;
    1. The ability to independently identify and select sources, using traditional and modern techniques;
    1. The ability to analyse and evaluate a corpus of sources with a view to addressing a particular historical problem;
    1. The ability to analyse and evaluate literature with a view to addressing a particular historical problem;
    1. 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;
    1. The ability to independently set up and carry out an original research project that can make a contribution to existing scholarly debates;
    1. 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;
    1. The ability to participate in current debates in the specialisation;
    1. (ResMA only:) The ability to participate in a discussion of the theoretical foundations of the discipline.

Learning objectives, pertaining to the specialisation

    1. Thorough knowledge and comprehension of one of the specialisations or subspecialisations as well as of the historiography of the specialisation, focusing particularly on the following:
    • in the specialisation Ancient History: unification processes in the Graeco-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.
    1. 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-scientific methods; specialised source knowledge, in particular of documentary sources, and more specifically epigraphy.

Learning objectives, pertaining to this optional course
The student:

    1. Will get acquainted with the emerge and development of ancient coinage and monetarism in the ancient world.
    1. Will acquire knowledge of how they have to find and use numismatic sourcebooks and material, and they are able to determine ancient coinage.
    1. Will be able to apply the acquired knowledge and insights of coin hoard research to a freely chosen specific research field.
    1. ResMA students will be able to focus on the higher complexity of the corpus of ancient coinage that is analysed in comparison to regular MA students; and they have the ability to set up and carry research from new approaches which raises new questions


See Timetable and deadlines History

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Course Load

Total: 10 EC x 28 hrs = 280 hours

  • Seminars, excursion and methodology workshops: 16 + 2 + 8 = 26 hours

  • Compulsary literature with smaller assesments: 28 hours

  • Oral presentation: 50 hours

  • Writing: 176 hours

Assessment method


  • Written paper (ca. 7500 words, based on research in primary sources, including footnotes and bibliography)
    Measured learning objectives: 1-8, 10-11; 14 (ResMA also 9, 15)

  • Oral presentation
    Measured learning objectives: 3-7, 14 (ResMA also 9, 15)

  • Smaller assignments in preparation of the excursion and the workshops
    Measured learning objectives: 12-13

Written paper: 60%
Oral presentation: 20%
Participation and smaller assignments : 20%

Research MA students will be expected to cover more ground in their paper and demonstrate the ability to apply theory to practice on an advanced level.

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

Written papers should be handed in within the given deadline.

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


Blackboard will be used for announcements, literature, and grade marks.

Reading list

  • To be announced


Via uSis

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


mw. Dr. L.M.G.F.E. Claes