Regional monetary economies


This project forms part of the IAP 07/09 project, under the direction of Prof. Jeroen Poblome, on “Comparing regionality and sustainability in Pisidia, Boeotia, Picenum and NW Gaul between Iron and Middle Ages (1000 BC – AD 1000)”. The project wishes to compare the long-term regional trajectories of change and development in the ancient regions of Pisidia (SW Turkey), Boeotia (Central Greece), Picenum (Central Adriatic Italy) and NW Gaul (Belgium and N France), from the first millennium BC into the first millennium AD. Work Package 6 of the project focuses on the long-term development of the monetary economies in those regions, and will be developped at the Coin Cabinet of the Royal Library of Belgium under the direction of Prof. Johan van Heesch. In this framework, two separate studies will be developed. The first study will be carried out by Christian Lauwers, and focuses on the coins and coin use in Northwest Europe from the 3rd century BC to the 12th century AD. The second study, carried out by Fran Stroobants, involves the monetization of southwest Anatolia from the Persian period to the Byzantine era. Both studies will result in a PhD thesis, presented at the KU Leuven.

These research projects are financed by the Belgian Science Policy under the Interuniversity Attraction Poles programme.


Description of the project

Coins and coin use in Northwest Europe from the Third century BC to the Twelfth Century AD
Christian Lauwers

This research involves an investigation on coins and coin use (monetization) in Northwest Europe in the long term, and on the effects of the introduction of coinage on society and economy. It will emphasize the influence of changing political regimes on coined money and its use, in comparing the economies of the Gallic tribes of the Iron Age, of the Roman Empire, of the Germanic kingdoms of the 5th to 7thcenturies, of the Carolingian Empire and of the post-Carolingian period. The integration of the so-called barbarian world in the western economic system will be studied, as well as the impact of the introduction and use of small change, mining, the presence of permanent garrisons on the limes, and government policies such as the imposition of taxation in coins. From a chronological point of view, this study will address a period starting in the third century BC, when coinage first appeared in Northwest Europe, and ending in the twelfth century AD with the end of feudalism. In a geographical perspective, strict limits cannot be laid down, because of the political evolution of Northwest Europe, as well as the interactions with neighbouring areas, which will require to be considered. In general, the search area will include North of France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Holland and the West of Germany, thus regions within and outside the Roman Empire. Coins hoards, classified in three broad periods, Iron Age, the Roman Period and the Middle Ages, will be studied, in order of determining patterns of composition (metals, denominations, dates of issue, numbers of coins) and of geographical distribution of these hoards. These three broad periods will also be useful in articulating the study of coins finds of a sample of urban and rural sites representative of the different sub-regions of the study area. The processing of the collected and classified data, as well as their confrontation with the archaeological contexts and literary evidences, will lead to a theoretical reflection about the evolution of coinage and its socio-economic consequences for its users and issuers.


The monetization of southwest Anatolia from the Persian period to the Byzantine era.
Questioning monetary production, circulation, use and integration from a regional perspective 

Fran Stroobants

This research wishes to examine the long-term monetization of southwest Anatolia, whereby monetary production, circulation, use and integration will be questioned from a regional perspective. The focus will be on the period from the introduction of coinage into the region around 650 BC,  until the end of the Byzantine era in the twelfth century AD. This broad time span is required to map the monetary development in the long term and to study the impact of changing political authorities on the production, circulation and use of monetary means. The monetization in southwest Anatolia will be studied for four separate periods, defined by changes in both political and monetary conditions: the arrival of coinage during the Lydian era and the Persian empire  (ca. 650 BC – 333 BC), the  Hellenistic period  (333 – 25 BC), the Roman period  (25 BC – early 7th century AD) and the Byzantine period  (7th – 12th century AD). In studying the monetary economy, the focus will be on the use of coins, which is the most common and archaeologically attested monetary means. However, attention will be also paid to other forms of money, for instance, payments made in kind or the use of credit.
From a geographical point of view, the concerned region is defined as southwest Anatolia. This broad definition is necessary  because of the fact that the limits of what this study will treat as “the region” are largely determined by political and socio-economical changes and developments and are not fixed by mere geographical borders. Regions as such are products of differential activity patterns, including the so-called “monetary radius of action”. The radius needs to be defined for each period separately, possibly resulting from new political forces or changes in trade routes and partners.

For each period, production, circulation and use of coinage will be studied. Regarding the production of coinage, the region of southwest Anatolia is characterized by the fact that coins were minted both locally and regionally from the introduction of coinage on until the third century AD. Starting from questions of denominations, values, weight-standards, quantities and responsibility, it will be considered whether local or regional monetary policies existed and how they changed or not through time. Methodologically speaking, the production of local and regional coins will be studied from existing catalogues such as the series of Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum.The monetary circulation, which includes questions of the precise scope of the use of coinage and the existence of closed or open monetary systems, will be studied by means of both excavation finds and hoards. Considering the former, a large quantity of material is available by the excavations at Sagalassos. Especially for the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine times, this site and its territory will be the starting point for examining circulation. Moreover, coin finds from other sites and surveys as well as hoards will be included in order to reconstruct the regional patterns. For both the study of production and circulation mechanisms, it will be important to consider the possibilities of (long-term) quantitative analysis and statistical methods  when dealing with the coin evidence. Apart from the question in which context gold, silver and bronze coins were used in economic transactions, attention will equally be paid to the impact of coinage on society and vice versa.  In the end, the outcome of those research questions reveals the regional evolution of the production, circulation, use and integration of coinage and other monetary means, in accordance to the wider political, social and cultural setting, and will make it possible to detect and explain changes, developments and periods of stability over the long term.



IAP 07/09 Coordinator:
Prof. Jeroen Poblome, KU Leuven, Wrebra.Cboybzr@negf.xhyrhira.or

WP Promotor: 
Prof. Johan van Heesch, Coin Cabinet of the Royal Library of Belgium, wbuna.inaurrfpu@xoe.or

WP Officers: 
Christian Lauwers – puevfgvna.ynhjref@xoe.or
Fran Stroobants – sena.fgebbonagf@xoe.or

Associated researchers: 
Prof. François de Callataÿ, Royal Library of Belgium, ULB, EPHE (Paris).
Céline Ben Amar, MA, Royal Library of Belgium.