Article

The Substance of Coinage: The Role of Scientific Analysis in Ancient Numismatics

Matthew J. Ponting

in The Oxford Handbook of Greek and Roman Coinage

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780195305746
Published online November 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195305746.013.0002

Series: Oxford Handbooks

The Substance of Coinage: The Role of Scientific Analysis in Ancient Numismatics

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Interest in the composition of ancient coins is not recent. Up to 1908, most analyses had consisted solely of the major elemental compositions; little attempt had been made to study the trace elements, or, indeed, the microstructures. It was not until 1912 that metallography was first used to suggest Roman minting procedures. Levels of fineness and the ratio of gold to silver were seen as the most important areas of interest and continue to be the focus of much current research. The 1960s and 1970s saw the development and increasing use of instrumental analytical techniques that could be used without the need to take a sample from a coin. Over the last forty years, a relatively large number of analyses have been conducted using x-ray fluorescence and neutron activation analysis techniques, and they continue to be favored in some quarters today.

Keywords: ancient coins; metallography; x-ray fluorescence; neutron activation analysis

Article.  6174 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Greek and Roman Archaeology ; Historical Archaeology

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