ISAW co-sponsors "Coins in Context" conference at New College, Oxford

By Sebastian Heath

On September 24th and 25th, ISAW faculty member Sebastian Heath and Andrew Meadows, Professor of Ancient History at New College, Oxford, co-organized the conference "Coins in Context." Across the two days of the event, an international group of scholars and researchers assembled in Oxford, in the words of the call for participants, "to explore the integration of the archaeological context of coin finds into the searchable network of numismatic Linked Open Data."

The event is timely because the numismatic community has recently made great strides in creating aggregated digital resources for Greek and Roman coinage. Sites such as the NEH-funded "Online Coins of the Roman Empire" and "Coinage of the Roman Republic Online," both hosted by the American Numismatic Society, present individual coin types with links to specific examples that are currently drawn largely from museum collections.

"Coins in Context" brought together numismatists and archaeologists working with coins collected during fieldwork around the Mediterranean. Spain, France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, and Egypt were among the modern countries in which archaeologists and numismatists at the event are working. The program mixed technical discussion of the existing infrastructure for gathering numismatic data with presentations from archaeological projects on the state of their own numismatic digitization efforts. A recurring theme was the nature of the information about "archaeological context" that ought to be brought together in a combined digital resource so that meaningful research agendas can be pursued. It is already possible to address "findspot" at the level of modern toponym or "archaeological site." It will be more interesting if further aspects of a deposit - such as its association with the construction, occupation or abandonment of a building - can be shared so that the relationship between specific archaeological contexts and the economic use of coins can be more readily explored. "Coins in Context" began this process and it is likely that a follow-up event will be held in 2019.