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National Endowment for the Humanities Funds ANS Hellenistic Royal Coinages Project


The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has awarded the American Numismatic Society (ANS) a substantial grant of $262,000 to fund the web-based Hellenistic Royal Coinages (HRC) project. Under the direction of Curator Dr. Peter van Alfen and Director of Data Science Ethan Gruber, this three-year project (Phase 1, planned for 2017­2020) promises to radically transform the ability of students, scholars, and collectors to identify and research Hellenistic royal coinages, and to incorporate this numismatic material into broad analyses of political, economic, and social history.

The funds from this grant will be used solely to hire assistants to aid in the extensive photography, cataloguing, and typology work that lies at the heart of the project.

Hellenistic royal coinages were produced by a number of competing dynastic kingdoms founded in the eastern Mediterranean and the Near East following Alexander the Great’s death in Babylon in June 323 BCE. Coins had already become a preferred monetary medium by the time of his death, but their use was mostly limited to the Greek world. This was to change dramatically following his conquest of the Persian Empire. A sudden and massive surge in coin production began using the thousands of tons of captured Persian gold and silver in areas of the Near East that had previously not used coinage, first under Alexander himself and later under his successors.

This flood of new coinage and monetary metal had significant repercussions, not just in the East, but in the Greek homelands as well, where many city­states stopped producing their own coins or began to produce imitations of Alexander’s. After Alexander’s death, his successors, including Seleucus, Ptolemy, and Antigonus began to carve out their individual kingdoms and soon initiated a new royal class of coinage unlike any type issued before. Taking cues from Alexander’s coinage, their royal coinages were distinctive in a number of ways, not least for the ruler portraits that appeared on coins for the first time in history.

Today, these coins bear some of the most distinctive images to survive from the ancient world, and form a standard part of many museum collections.

With its focus on these remarkable royal coinages, HRC will be built around seven interlinked web-based components, employing the principles of Linked Open Data, already successfully deployed in a number of other ANS projects (including the NEH­-funded Online Coins of the Roman Empire; ). These include three stand­alone online tools each of which is devoted to the coinage of a single royal dynasty. These are: (1) PELLA, with a focus on the Argeads of Macedonia including Alexander the Great; (2) Seleucid Coins Online (SCO); and (3) Ptolemaic Coins Online (PCO).

Incorporated within these three tools will be (4) a monogram and symbols repository. Two additional stand­alone tools, (5) Greek Coin Hoards and (6) the scanned notebooks of Edward T. Newell (d. 1941), the leading US scholar on these coinages, will provide full documentation of available hoard evidence and provenance information for many individual coins. While all of the stand­alone tools will be interlinked, they will also be united through a portal site, (7) Hellenistic Royal Coinages, that will serve as a union catalogue for global searches and as a platform for later expansion, which will focus on adding the coinages of the remaining Hellenistic dynasties (Phase 2, post­2020).

A full description of the Hellenistic Royal Coinages project and its significance can be found here.

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ANS Announces 2017 Harry W. Fowler Memorial Lecture Presenter Prof. Phillip B. Wagoner


The American Numismatic Society is delighted to announce that the 2017 Harry W. Fowler Memorial Lecture will be presented by Phillip B. Wagoner, Professor of Art History and Archaeology at Wesleyan University. The lecture will take place on Monday, May 1, 2017 at the American Numismatic Society, 75 Varick Street, Floor 11, in New York City. Prof. Wagoner will speak on “The Deccan as an Integrated Currency Zone: New Approaches to the Study of Peninsular Indian Coin Hoards (1347-1687).”

Prof. Wagoner’s research focuses on the cultural history of the Deccan region of South India, primarily late medieval and early modern periods. In particular, he is intrigued by historical interactions between the region’s established Indic culture and the Persianate culture that arrived when the Delhi Sultanate annexed the region. Since 2000, his work has focused on Persianate Islamic architecture in the Deccan. Dr. Wagoner has been associated with the Vijayanagara Research Project since 1987, which has led to two published books; he also published many articles on various topics relating to Vijayanagara.

Dr. Wagoner received his BA from Kenyon College and his PHD from the University of Wisconsin. His most recent book is Power, Memory, Architecture: Contested Sites on India’s Deccan Plateau, 1300-1600 (with Richard M. Eaton; 2014), which won the American Historical Association’s John F. Richards Prize and the Association for Asian Studies’ Ananda K. Coomaraswamy Prize.

The lecture will be followed by a response from Finbarr Barry Flood, the William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of the Humanities at the Institute of Fine Arts and Department of Art History, New York University.

The lecture will begin at 6:00 PM. It will be preceded by a reception at 5:30 PM.

RSVP required to:, 
or (212) 571-4470, ext. 117.
 Government issued photo I.D. required for entry.

The Harry W. Fowler Memorial Lecture was established in 1998 with a bequest from Mr. Fowler and with additional gifts from the Fowler family. Harry W. Fowler served as President of the American Numismatic Society from 1984-1990, and for his personal generosity was named a Benefactor of the Society in 1986. In 1995 he bequeathed his collection of Bactrian coins to the ANS, which together with the Society’s already strong holdings, has created one of the most comprehensive collections of Greco-Bactrian and Indo-Greek coins.

Ancient Bactrian Coins Currently Available on eBay



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