An article by Bernhard Woytek and Daniela Williams in the July 23, 2015 CoinsWeekly reports on the recently concluded conference in Austria on numismatic author Joseph Eckhel (1737-1798). Here's an excerpt, but be sure to read the complete article online.
The international conference Ars critica numaria. Joseph Eckhel (1737-1798) and the development of numismatic method took place in Vienna from May 27 to 30, 2015. The congress, organised by Bernhard Woytek and Daniela Williams, was made possible through funding by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) as part of the project “Joseph Eckhel (1737-1798) and his numismatic network” (project no. P25282).
The four-day conference, held at the Austrian Academy of Sciences and the Kunsthistorisches Museum, brought together 21 speakers from Europe and the United States - a heterogeneous group of scholars working in different fields: from ancient numismatics to early modern history, from archaeology to the history of science and scholarship in the Enlightenment, as well as Digital Humanities. For the very first time, the life and work of Joseph Eckhel, the so-called “Father of Numismatics”, were analysed in the broader context of his time.
On May 27, after the opening of the conference, François de Callataÿ and Bernhard Woytek introduced the international initiative Fontes Inediti Numismaticae Antiquae (FINA) as well as the project on Eckhel’s correspondence, which is now in its third year. The keynote speech on the transformation processes of science and scholarship in the age of Enlightenment was delivered by Hans Erich Bödeker (University of Göttingen). As a historian of cultural practices (reading, writing, travelling, modes of sociability), political theories and science in the early modern period, Bödeker provided interesting suggestions and food for thought not only during this presentation, but throughout the whole congress.
The first session on May 28 focused on studies before (and contemporary to) Eckhel and how they contributed to shaping his thought and work. Papers provided a general background on collecting and research during the Enlightenment in Austria, an analysis about how Jesuit scholars approached ancient numismatics, a review of the study of ancient art in the 18th century (Montfaucon, Caylus and Winckelmann) and examined the contribution of Erasmus Frölich to Viennese numismatics (speakers: K. Vocelka, J. Guillemain, V. Heenes, F. de Callataÿ).
The second session, which took place at the Kunsthistorisches Museum, centered on systematic approaches to ancient coinage through the centuries, on the arrangement of coin collections, Eckhel’s colleagues, and his day-to-day work at the Imperial coin cabinet (speakers: M. Mulsow, D. Haarmann, K. Vondrovec).
The event was a great success with more than 60 registered non-speaking attendees from Vienna, other parts of Austria, many European countries and the United States. It is clear that the history of numismatics is an emerging subject, attracting interest from diverse fields. The interaction among speakers and participants during the discussions following the presentations, refreshment breaks and both formal and informal social gatherings contributed to developing a new understanding of Joseph Eckhel’s scholarly activity.
Eckhel was a “founding father” of numismatics who inaugurated a new era without really revolutionizing our discipline from a methodological perspective. He was a scholar exchanging ideas and information with many of his contemporaries, someone who gathered as much knowledge on ancient coins as was available in his day and critically and skillfully systematized it, thereby providing the future generations of scholars with a sound basis on which to build. He combined the true spirit of Enlightenment research with the study of coins, and enabled his followers to develop new approaches to the study of ancient numismatics.
The proceedings of the conference will be published in Vienna.
To read the complete article, see:
Joseph Eckhel (1737-1798) and ancient numismatics in the Enlightenment
Wayne Homren, Editor
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