Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Archaeological Tail Wags Numismatic Dog?

Nathan Elkins is publicizing a new book entitled, "Coins in Context I" on his blog. See: http://coinarchaeology.blogspot.com/ He is also a contributor to the work.

The book does sound interesting. Still, I don't know if I will purchase it or, if I do, whether I will actually have the time necessary to read it in the depth that it deserves. Thus, I am happy that Nathan Elkins is also taking the time to summarize the book on his blog.

While I welcome the book and his efforts and those of the other contributors to take archaeology away from merely treating coins as dating devices for archaeological stratum, I hope the work will not be used to dismiss the efforts of others who focus on different aspects of numismatics, or, for that matter, justify the imposition of import restrictions on coins.

For a look at other recent numismatic research, see the contents of the ANS 150 th Anniversary Edition of the American Journal of Numismatics: http://numismatics.org/wikiuploads/Store/AJN20TOC.pdf The reader should note that while topics related to coins and archaeology appear, there are also titles that focus on other aspects of coins.

Archaeology and coins is certainly an important topic. But, numismatic research is broader than just archaeology and however useful the study of coins and their context may be, there are simply far too many coins out there to be studied, preserved and displayed solely by archaeologists or museums in source countries. In other words, the archaeological tail should not be allowed to wag the numismatic dog.

1 comment:

Cultural Property Observer said...

I see Paul Barford confirms his "archaeology over all" stance with this quote in response to my blog: "[I}t follows that the study of ancient coins is no more or less than a part of archaeology." See: http://paul-barford.blogspot.com/2009/06/numismatic-research-is-broader-than.html

This qoute would likely surprise the authors of the non-archaeological topics of the AJN mentioned in my blog and would likly surprise those that wrote on archaeological topics as well.

This is also an odd statement given the fact that numismatics predates archaeology by several hundred years. Barford thus confirms he is completely outside the mainstream of numismatic thought.