Did the Ancient World Need No Coins?

Nero (54-68 AD). Sestertius.
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On 3rd-4th June 2021, the 6th International Numismatic Conference of the Coin Cabinet of the Royal Library of Belgium will be organized at KBR, focusing on long interruptions in coinage during Antiquity.

When discussing coin production, numismatic studies tend to focus on the phases of high output and the underlying incentives, like military activity or trade. During this conference, we would like to highlight these other phases in Greek and Roman history when coin production was interrupted for years, decades or even centuries. Also regarding Hellenistic and Roman civic coinages phases of high output alternated with periods of very limited coin production or no production at all, resulting in highly irregular minting patterns.

The aim of this conference is to focus on such period of low or non-activity, and to search for explanations of this phenomenon. Can interruptions in coin production be linked to a decline in monetary needs or to a shift in transaction tools? Or are they rather a sign of sufficient monetary stocks in a specific region or during a certain period in time? Such questions are essential in our understanding of the monetary economy during antiquity, and can be approached through both numismatic, literary and archaeological evidence. Due to the Covid-19-crisis, the conference will be held online.


Thursday, 3rd June 2021

  • 14:00 – Fran Stroobants – Welcome & Introduction
  • 14:30 – Jonathan Kagan – Starting and Stopping: Case Studies of Mints that Closed under the Athenian Arche and Re-Opened during Lysander’s short-lived Spartan Hegemony: The Chalkidike: Potidaea and Skione; The Cyclades: Naxos, Siphnos and Melos.
  • 15:00 – Rudolf Puelinckx – Greek Sparta, a polis without coinage? Sikyon as a “counterexample”.
  • 15:30 – Break
  • 15:45 – Marta Barbato – Interruptions in the production of bronze coins during the Late Republic: pattern of circulation of official and “unofficial” bronzes from Rome.
  • 16:15 – Maria Cristina Molinari – The inapprehensible interruption of the production of the base metal in the mint of Rome between AD 43 and 63.
  • 16:45 – Questions & discussion

Friday, 4th June 2021

  • 14:00 – George Watson – The Intermittent Imperials Revisited: the contribution of die-sharing.
  • 14:30 – Fran Stroobants – Intermittent coin production in the region of Sagalassos and the existence of regional monetary networks.
  • 15:00 – Jack Nurpetlian – To mint or not to mint. A case study of Syro-Phoenicia in the Roman period
  • 15:30 – Break
  • 15:45 – Peter Guest – A Tale of Two Empires: Reduced Coin Production in the Fifth-Century AD
  • 16:15 – Gilles Bransbourg – Did the Roman Middle-Class Vanish during the Fifth Century CE?
  • 16:45 – Questions & discussion
  • 17:00 – François de Callataÿ – Conclusions


Participation is free of charge, but registration is required by filling in the form.

For further information visit the website of the Royal Library of Belgium.