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Embedded Denominations: Patterns in the hoard evidence from fourth-century Southern Anatolia

Lisa Pilar Eberle

In this paper I argue that the use of denominations in Greek coinage could be socially embedded and circumscribed and thus question the assumption that denominational systems implied the free convertibility of the denominations in the systems. These insights allow me to explore the socially transformative effects inherent in the economic integration which Greek cities' minting decisions regarding denominations accomplished.

A study of denominational patterns in the hoard evidence from fourth-century BC Southern Anatolia lies at the core of the paper. A study of this kind is methodologically innovative; it draws on recent analyses of regional patterns in hoard composition, such as that of Andrew Meadows for the Chian standard in fourth-century BC Asia Minor, and argues that these patterns help us understand the differential use that was made of denominations.

In fourth-century BC Pamphylia and Cilicia small coins began to be minted late; they were hoarded separately; and many places in mountainous areas that minted no large coins struck them. I draw two conclusions concerning fourth-century BC Southern Anatolia from this evidence. First, small coins were an agent of economic integration between lowland and upland areas, and thus of the creation of a region; and second, small coins were used for different purposes in different social contexts, thus breaking any denominational coherence of the civic coinages in the region.

I suggest that these conclusions gain added significance when analysed against the background of ever-changing debt relations that pervaded ancient societies. For the denominational rupture revealed by the hoard evidence indicates that in Pamphylia and Cilicia small coins were inserted into pre-existing social relations that were constituted through debt. In the final part of the paper I explore how the use of coinage changed the nature of these relations and gave rise to new ones. Outlining this transformation is a means towards pinpointing the specificity of the economic integration accomplished by coinage.

Session/Panel Title

Economic Integration and Disintegration: New Approaches to Standards and Denominations in Ancient Greek Coinage

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