Translatio nummorum – Roman Emperors in the Renaissance

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by Ursula Kampmann
translated by Björn Schöpe

December 1, 2011 – From November 16 to 18, 2011 experts from all over the world gathered in Berlin to discuss how their Renaissance colleagues started to interpret the wealth of coins they had at hand. The Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften and the Münzkabinett der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin had invited to this conference. These two institutions realized in collaboration with the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florence a wide-ranged project: to detect the ancient sources known by Renaissance artists and scholars concerning the coinage of the twelve Caesars and to connect them with real objects. To achieve this goal numerous contemporary books on numismatics have been digitalized and commented. Soon they will be available to a broad public online. The Berliner Münzkabinett has published its collection of Julio-Claudian and Flavian coins within its interactive catalogue. And Census has linked both kinds of sources.

Some of the speakers and moderators of the conference in front of the entrance of the Bodemuseum. Photo: Elke Bannicke.

How can scholars all over the world use these databases for their own projects? Are there anyhow so many people interested in, that such an effort might seem justified? When Ulrike Peter from the Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften, who organized the conference, sent the invitations, it was this kind of questions bothering her. To cut a long story short. Even she was surprised by the intense echo she received. Experts of cultural history, archivists, art historians, but also numismatists came from so many countries to present their research topics in this context.
Thus the range of papers was very variegated: From the interpretation of literature of the Renaissance to matters of the history of ideas, to research of single coin collections, to the question of what is true in old coin catalogues and what may be invented, to problems of art history about how coin designs could have been used in buildings, pictures and contemporary coinage.

As always with this kind of event the breaks were the most precious moments: Then new connections were made and old ones renewed to collaborate on intriguing projects. An excellent social program permitted even to visit the much requested exhibition “Renaissance Faces” and made this conference an unique event that probably all participants will remember for a long time.

If you want to learn more about “Census of Antique Works of Art and Architecture Known in the Renaissance”, please click here.

More on the project “Translatio nummorum” you will find here.

The program of the conference with all referees is available here.

Here is the Census database.

To search in the interactive database of the Münzkabinett, please click here. You will be amazed how many results a search “Augustus” delivers.

For more information on the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz, please take a look here.

The Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz offers regularly digital exhibitions. Particularly fascinating are the pictures of the great flood of 1966. Here a view of the dome and baptistery under water.