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Friend of Numismatics 2021

“Usurpers, Rivals, and Regime Change: The Evidence of Coins”

Friends of Numismatics Panel

In this panel we seek to explore the evidentiary value of coins to document regime change in the ancient world across time. 

Scholars speak strictly of an era of “usurpers” in the third century CE, after the death of Severus Alexander (235 CE) when for about fifty years a series of military commanders competed for hegemony and needed to develop claims for legitimate authority. But ancient history is filled with dramatic episodes in which ambitious political or military leaders supplant a government perceived as legitimate or attempt to seize control. Greek tyrannies of the archaic period and the Hellenistic monarchies that succeeded Alexander, were in a constant state of political and military competition. The Roman Empire witnessed senatorial action and plots to remove emperors such as, Caligula, Nero, and Domitian, while the “Year of the Five Emperors” witnessed the competing claims of Pertinax, Didius Julianus, Pescennius Niger, Clodius Albinus, and Septimius Severus in the aftermath of the assassination of Commodus. Usurpers, pretenders, and rivals had to project their legitimacy to various constituencies.

What can coins teach us about the processes and the evolving discourses? We are especially interested in contributions that bring numismatic evidence to bear together with visual, epigraphic, literary, or archaeological data.

Questions may be directed to Roberta Stewart ( or Nathan Elkins (

Please send abstracts for a 15-20 minute paper to Nathan Elkins ( Deadline: March 1, 2020. Abstracts should be no more than 300 words and follow the SCS guidelines for individual abstracts ( Please do not identify yourself in any way in the abstract itself. Submissions will be reviewed anonymously and final decisions communicated by end of March.

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