I’m pleased to say that since about May my team and I at the Barber have been making steady progress in getting at least some of our coins onto the Internet, and this is another post to tell you about some of them. As I mentioned before, not everything we’re uploading is medieval, and least of all this, in some ways, our thirty-six Ancient Greek coins from various places. There is some very beautiful stuff here (by which some partisans of the later material would say I mean ‘naturalistic’) and it certainly gets good reactions from people in handling sessions, but it is of questionable relevance to the blog, for sure. Except maybe these five.
What is relevant about this is just that these are from Byzantium, or more properly Byzantion, the Greek city on or close to the site which Emperor Constantine I (306-337) chose for his new imperial capital, given of course the unassuming name of Constantinople, now Istanbul. Some of them pretty much say so, too. It’s from this predecessor settlement, in fact, that modern scholars have given the later eastern empire its appelation ‘Byzantine’.
I like these mainly because they emphasise that there was a before here, some reason to pick the site and something that explains the word we use for the empire that refocused there. From some of the textbooks on the later Roman Empire you’d get the idea that before Constantine spotted it Byzantion had been little more than a village. And well, it was not a big place perhaps but it was big enough to have its own local coinage, one which ran right up to the time of Constantine’s predecessor Diocletian (284-305), and to show its own patron god on it. And now you can see it, and him, online.
Star volunteer helpers here were Amy Walsh, with us from the University of Melbourne on the International Museums and Collections Award intern scheme, and Evelina Kuvykovaite from the University of Warwick, both of whom made my work much the less. Thanks to both and I hope the readership will forgive the brief run into the ancient world!