Aleksander Bursche (Universität Warschau)

Function of Roman Coins in Barbaricum

Coinage of different material form can serve, according to the substantivist school of Karl Polanyi and his followers, five different functions: means of payment, medium of exchange, store of value, standard of value and value guarantee. When all five functions are performed coinage plays the role of all purpose money. Otherwise, if only some of these functions, or just one, are performed we have to do with special purpose money. Coinage in pre-state and early market communities has played, and in some so-called ‘primitive societies’ still plays the role of special purpose money. In practice, only central power of state communities could guarantee the value of coinage for a longer period.

Using this line of reasoning, model and tools, comparative methods, written sources and – above all – archaeological data, especially, the context of finds of Roman coins and their imitations, I propose to analyse their possible function in barbarian societies of central-eastern Europe. Were Roman coins used for payment (for what?), in transactions of exchange, as means of prestige, ornaments and amulets, or were most of them melted down? In this context I propose to present new, sensational data to reconstruct the early origins of native Germanic coinage, datable as early as the mid-3rd century AD.




  • Datum/Zeit: 08.05.2015, 16:00-17:30 Uhr
  • Veranstaltungsort: Universität Bonn, Akademisches Kunstmuseum, Hörsaal

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