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Undergraduate Degree Programs

These course descriptions are not being updated as of August 1, 2016. Current course descriptions are maintained in LionPATH.

Jewish Studies (J ST)

J ST 210 (GH;IL) (CAMS 210) Numismatics and the Historian (3) Numismatics--the scholarly study of coins and medals--is a major tool in the study of Classical history and archaeology.

J ST (CAMS) 210 Numismatics and the Historian (3)

WHY STUDY NUMISMATICS? Numismatics is the scholarly study of coins. Coinage has been used in the ancient world since the 7th century BCE. Eventually, minted money—i.e. coinage—came to supplant money in other forms, replacing barter as the primary means of exchange in economies around the world. Coinage became a tool of governments to impose taxation upon their subject peoples, and to spread propaganda about governmental goals or issues. Coins are works of art, but they are common, widely circulating “works of art,” which also accomplish a daily monetary function to run commerce and the monetary system of an economy. Coins are also historical records, containing valuable information for the historian who is attempting to reconstruct the history of another time or place. For archaeologists, coins sometimes are the only means of providing absolute dates for excavated strata. The interpretation of numismatic evidence, like any other pieces of evidence in the historical puzzle, however, requires special knowledge and expertise.
This course is not a course in “coin collecting,” although the collector may find the course helpful or interesting. It is an investigation of the development of coined money in the ancient world, with special investigations into (1) how coins were struck and used in Phoenicia of the 5th and 4th centuries BCE; (2) the variety and early uses for coins in the Greek city states of the 6th-4th centuries BCE; (3) the development of Jewish coins in the Holy Land, from Persian times to the period of the 2nd Revolt (early 2nd century CE); and (4) the development of coinage in the Roman economy of the 1st—5th centuries CE.
Photographs of coins will enhance class work. With the cooperation of the Palmer Museum, on Penn State’s University Park Campus, the class will have access at several points during the semester to view and work with coins from the Palmer’s collection of ancient Jewish coins Students will leave the course with a new understanding of what coins are, how they developed, and what they can teach us about ancient history and economics.

General Education: GH
Diversity: IL
Bachelor of Arts: None
Effective: Summer 2012

Note : Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus.


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