Researchers in Australia are investigating how a certain type of ancient coin was created. -Editor
Researchers at Macquarie University's Australian Centre for Ancient Numismatic Studies (ACANS) have joined forces with scientists from the
Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), on a joint research program to solve a twenty-five century-old mystery behind the
technology used to produce a special variety of ancient Greek coins.
First minted around 540 BC in the cities of Southern Italy (modern Basilicata and Calabria), incuse coins show the same image on the front and
back – but the image on the back is sunk into the metal so that it appears as a negative or incuse version of the front.
The mysterious technique of manufacture, which appears to be quite difficult to execute, has attracted a good deal of discussion but it has never
been satisfactorily explained. We do know, however, that these cities continued to mint these coins for over a century.
There are no surviving contemporary accounts of ancient coin manufacture, and no illustrations. Only three or four of the dies once used for
striking coins in ancient Greek mints survive today. Therefore, what we know about the earliest history of coin minting is derived from a study of
the coins themselves.
With the emerging science of neutron scattering, the use of neutron diffraction to improve our understanding of the techniques of ancient coin
manufacture is just beginning, and the ANSTO/ACANS study is among the first.
"Our aim is to explore the technology behind the production of one of the world's first coinages," explains Dr Vladimir Luzin,
Instrument Scientist at ANSTO. "In particular, our objective is to explain the very singular technology and processes for minting incuse
"ANSTO's neutron scattering texture measurements will provide insight into the mechanical processes undertaken to create the coins,"
explains Associate Professor Kenneth Sheedy, Director of ACANS.
"Numismatists from ACANS will then infer the production steps undertaken to produce these coins using knowledge of ancient materials and
equipment that were available at the time."
Macquarie University's Numismatic Centre holds one of the finest collections of South Italian coins in the world (there are 1267 coins
specimens in the Gale donation). This research partnership with ANSTO will help to enrich the Centre's knowledge of this important university
To read the complete article, see:
Uncovering twenty-five century-old mystery behind ancient Greek
The coin pictured with the original article made no sense at all, so I didn’t bother including it. But Eric VanHove forwarded this
blog post based on the original report, and it has a nice image of one of the coins in question. Thanks! -Editor
Silver Stater from Lucania Metapontion, 510-480 BC: Obv. Ear of corn, META reversed; Rev: Ear of corn incuse [Credit: Rosenblum Coins] First
minted around 540
BC in the cities of Southern Italy (modern Basilicata and Calabria), incuse coins show the same image on the front and back – but the image on the
back is sunk into the metal so that it appears as a negative or incuse version of the front.
To read the complete article, see:
Twenty-five century-old mystery
Wayne Homren, Editor
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