Sunday, May 11, 2008

Unprovenanced Ancient Greek Coins on Exhibit at Smithsonian

"Classically Greek: Coins and Bank Notes from Antiquity to Today," is a travelling exhibit from Greece on display in the Smithsonian Castle until June 10, 2008. There are only a few ancient Greek bronze coins and modern Greek bank notes in the exhibit, but it is nice to see coins and bank notes of any sort on display at the Smithsonian. It has been some years since the Smithsonian closed its venerable numismatic display, and plans for a new exhibit will have to wait for the reopening of the American History Museum, which has been closed for renovations for several years.

In any event, I find it telling that the Greek institutions that organized the travelling exhibit did not include "provenance information" with their descriptions of the ancient Greek coins in the display. Perhaps, such information is not as critical for common artifacts like coins as some in the archaeological community would have us believe.

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