John Lupia forwarded this book review from the Bryn Mawr Classical Review. Thanks. Here's an excerpt. -Editor
Frédérique Duyrat, Wealth and Warfare: The Archaeology of Money in Ancient Syria. Numismatic studies, 34. New York: American
Numismatic Society, 2016. Pp. xxvii, 596. ISBN 9780897223461.
Reviewed by Rebecca Dodd, Independent Scholar, University of Glasgow (firstname.lastname@example.org)
This substantial and ambitious volume covers the full range of hoards and site finds of ancient Syrian coins from areas which today
comprise modern Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, and Turkey, and brings together these sometimes disparate finds with detailed and coherent discussion
of coins as historical sources. While the main focus of this work is the Hellenistic period, the author gives attention to the pre-Hellenistic
Phoenician issues and to the coins of Alexander, while acknowledging that future studies should include the Roman period (p. 23). Indeed, one of the
most significant contributions that this work makes to our knowledge of Hellenistic coins is that it clearly demonstrates throughout that ancient
Syria was ruled and occupied by many different peoples, whereas much modern scholarship has focused on the Seleucids. Categorising this book is
challenging; its sheer size and the amount of material covered make it an excellent reference source for any and all of the topics covered,
especially in terms of its detailed catalogue and tables. In addition, the discussion chapters are written in a lively and accessible style that will
appeal to students and professionals alike.
The catalogue occupies just under half of this volume and is placed at the beginning rather than being relegated to a final appendix as is often
the case. This novel structure serves to underscore the importance of the coins and hoards as the foundation on which the study's evidence is
built. Each hoard or archaeological excavation is discussed in turn, and each entry contains its own bibliography in chronological order by
publication date. This has the double effect of giving a clear demonstration of the current state of scholarship and of illustrating a frequent
problem with numismatic research, namely that academic studies can be scattered across rare numismatic journals and more obscure publications.
Few criticisms can be offered. The author does use quotations from and references to modern, and especially French, literature and popular culture
on occasion throughout the book, which some may find distracting from the main arguments. That said, these references may prove welcome in a teaching
setting, for which this book is well-suited. The grayscale charts and diagrams contained within the text can occasionally prove difficult to read and
are sometimes less visually compelling than could be desired. The legends within the charts, however, are clear and consistent, and the accompanying
text more than compensates for any confusion created by the charts themselves.
The author makes a well-founded case for coin hoards and their value as historical evidence, while acknowledging the gaps in our knowledge. Many
of the chapters and the sections within could serve as standalone studies, but they are all brought together admirably to create a full picture of
coins and coin circulation (or the lack of same) in ancient Syria. While it is likely that some of the specifics of this work will become outdated in
the light of the welcome addition of new archaeological finds, nevertheless the overall methodologies and concepts will doubtlessly always have
value. This work is more than a scholarly monograph in that it can serve as a valuable resource with materials which will be useful for researchers,
students, and teachers alike.
To read the complete article, see:
2019.06.17 Frédérique Duyrat, Wealth and Warfare: The Archaeology of Money in
Ancient Syria. Numismatic studies, 34. (http://www.bmcreview.org/2019/06/20190617.html)
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
NEW BOOK: WEALTH AND WARFARE (https://www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v19n36a06.html)
Wayne Homren, Editor
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