Money in a New World: Introduction to Hellenistic Coinage

CAS is pleased to announce the next in its ongoing series of seminars designed to demystify the ancient world and to provide a friendly and accessible gateway into classical topics for learners of any background or ability. Starting off our series in 2021 will be a seminar on Hellenistic coinage!

The figure of Alexander the Great understandably casts a long shadow: his ruthless conquest of the Achaemenid Persian Empire, his claims to divinity and his early death all combine to make Alexander a true celebrity of the ancient world. Outside of academic circles, the period following Alexander’s demise is less well known. It is, however, a period well worth finding out more about. From almost the moment of Alexander’s death, it was clear that his trusted commanders could not be relied upon to maintain any degree of harmony, and soon afterwards they were fighting among themselves to carve out the largest pieces of their dead king’s massive empire. These so-called Successor Kingdoms would be contentious neighbours and rivals for centuries, the new Hellenistic era only truly ending with the death of Cleopatra in 30 BCE.

In this two-hour seminar, participants will be introduced to the history of this dynamic period, and will be given an introduction to studying ancient coinage (and how it compares to modern output). The seminar uses Hellenistic coinage to illustrate how these regimes sought to define and legitimise themselves. After these presentations, participants will get to grips with some ancient examples themselves, working in small groups to analyse some ancient coins and discover how much information can be extracted even from the smallest pieces of metal.

As with all our seminars, this session is entirely *free*, although registration will be required. To sign up, please contact Dr Alex Imrie ( 

This session is being offered in conjunction with the Edinburgh University Classics Society. It has been designed by Jenny Shearer, an undergraduate student in Classics with a special interest in the period, with input from faculty members at the university. She will be assisted by a number of her colleagues in the society. This is an exciting opportunity to learn more about a less commonly publicised subject from antiquity, and to see a group of exciting young classicists demonstrating that the ancient world is far from inaccessible!

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