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Tokens: The Athenian Legacy to the Modern World

The British School at Athens, 16-17 December 2019

Keynote speakers: Quinn DuPont and John H. Kroll

Call for Papers

Never before has an object of everyday life played such a powerful role in a multitude of circumstances: economics (Agorism, cryptocurrencies, tokenized credit and debit cards), governance (‘Agora’ networks applied in elections), and computing (data security via tokenization). This workshop aims to achieve a better understanding of tokens in ancient Athens as well as their modern-day applications in voting and market mechanics. Current theories and practices employ Athens and the city’s tokens as a historical paradigm. But what do we actually know about Athenian tokens? The workshop will focus on the following questions:


  • What were the roles played by tokens in Athens? Did these roles evolve from the Classical to the Roman Imperial Period?
  • Were tokens an ‘Athenian’ innovation? How did other Greek cities and states respond? What was the Roman ‘addition’ to Athenian tokens?
  • What are the similarities between tokens then and now?
  • How have tokens enabled and continue to enable anonymity and the operation of networks?
  • How do tokens contribute to the formation of civic and political identity?
  • How do tokens support legal and political equality?
  • Can tokens stand for a master network of expertise? How do they become indispensable for the purposes of management and decision making?
  • What rituals, behaviors and sentiments are related to tokens? Can tokens be regarded as a means of saving transaction costs?


The workshop invites contributions from across the humanities, informatics, finance and social sciences and welcomes discussion on any of the themes detailed above. Speakers may also bring their own themes or ideas. The workshop is designed as a forum of exchange in order to continue developing an interdisciplinary approach on the subject, already begun in two previous workshops (University of Warwick June 2017, British School at Rome October 2018), as part of the Token Communities in the Ancient Mediterranean Project.

Papers of 20 minutes duration are invited. Proposals including a title, name, e-mail address and an abstract of no more than 300 words should be emailed to Mairi Gkikaki, m.gkikaki@warwick.ac.uk by 1st May 2019. Notification of acceptance will be given by 1st June 2019. Travel subsidy will be possible. An edited volume of select papers arising from the conference is envisaged.

This workshop forms part of ‘Tokens and their Cultural biography in Athens from the Classical Age to the End of Antiquity’ project, a MARIE SKŁODOWSKA-CURIE action under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No AMD-794080-2.

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