Dr. habil. Edith Schönert-Geiß (b. August 7, 1933 – d. June 12, 2012)

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by Ulrike Peter

June 28, 2012 – Edith Schönert-Geiß was born on August 7, 1933 in Dresden. There she went to school from 1940 to 1952 leaving with a college degree. After moving to Berlin she studied history at Humboldt University. As early as September 1, 1956 Edith Schönert-Geiß was appointed assistant at the Central Institute for Ancient History and Archaeology of the Academy of Sciences of the GDR (Zentralinstitut für Alte Geschichte und Archäologie der Akademie der Wissenschaften der DDR). Since the beginning she was dedicated to the ‘Griechisches Münzwerk’. In various positions all her life was linked to the Corpus Nummorum. After World War II she revived this project that had once been started by Theodor Mommsen and published much on city issues. Hence, until now the ‘Griechisches Münzwerk’ of Thracian cities is connected closely with her name.
In May 1960 Edith Schönert-Geiß received her PhD degree in Ancient History and Numismatics with a work on ‘Provincial Issues of the city of Perinthos’ at Humboldt University. This study was to form the core of the first Corpus volume. The second volume (issues from Byzantium) was based on her book ‘Early silver issues from Byzantium’, her habilitation thesis in numismatics at the same university in 1966.
Besides the edition of Corpora of Thracian cities Edith Schönert-Geiß has dedicated herself especially to the late Roman coins found at the castrum Iatrus at the Danube part of the limes.

What Edith Schönert-Geiß did she accomplished always on a very high level of quality and accuracy. She never saw compilation and publication of the material as an end in itself but always as a first step to ask the ‘bigger’ questions: illuminating the history of the cities, working on iconographical and metrological problems, illustrating hence the importance of coins for enhancing our knowledge of the ancient world. Also she passed her profound acquaintance with the material to the younger generations by teaching at Humboldt University and Freie Universität, Berlin.

In 1963 Edith Schönert-Geiß was appointed honorary member of the Numismatic Society of Romania, in 1987 she became honorary member of the Numismatic Society in Stara Zagora (Bulgaria) receiving from the city of Stara Zagora (ancient Augusta Traiana) the honorary citizenship on behalf of her final Corpus volume on the coinage of Augusta Traiana and Traianopolis. In the same year she was distinguished by the Central Committee of the Numismatic Society of Bulgaria in Sofia on behalf of her merits for ‘the popularization and conservation of the numismatic wealth’.

To conclude her academic life she compiled a comprehensive bibliography of the numismatics of Thracia and Moesia. By this, once again, she revealed her precise working, her distinguished sense of duty and her joy of working applied to numismatics. When she was 65 she left the Academy of Science of Brandenburg-Berlin after 42 years of service on August 31, 1998. However, until the last moment she had remained an active member and a constant patron of the Friends of ancient numismatics in Berlin.
On June 12, 2012 the life of Edith Schönert-Geiß was consummated. In her we loose a distinguished and respected scholar and colleague.

You will find more information on the Griechisches Münzwerk here.

Some books by Mrs Schönert-Geiß are still available at Akademie Verlag.