The proposed project aims to enhance the existing coin collection within the department of Classics at Warwick, which is used regularly within teaching across multiple modules, as well as in outreach and engagement events. This collection has been assembled through donations and purchases, but lacks key specimens which are of significant cost. To begin to remedy this, Touching Antiquity aims to purchase a Roman aureus, the gold coin denomination used throughout the Roman Empire. Any additional funds will be spent on other coins of lower cost that are nonetheless key for understanding antiquity and its coinage.
The numismatic teaching collection is used regularly across multiple modules within Classics and Ancient History (c. 200 students across all years). Often the same coins appear in different modules as the students are asked to consider different aspects of the object (imagery, metal, weight, wear, how one classifies and records finds or museum objects, how coins were used within antiquity to think about abstract concepts, construct identities, etc). Being able to touch and interact with the material brings with it an understanding and knowledge that one is unable to obtain via powerpoint images or other reproductions. Research has shown that the use of material objects, with which learners can interact, often produces better learning outcomes. This kind of embodied and student-centred approach is one that we are keen to promote and develop in our department.
The teaching collection has also previously been used in outreach and engagement events, and now it has grown we intend to use it more regularly to engage school students and members of the general public with the ancient Mediterranean. Last year these events reached around 500 people. This year we have also been selected (through a competitive application process) to hold a Classics and Ancient History stream at the Warwick branch of the Sutton Trust Summer School (the ONLY Arts/Humanities offering), a five day school in July and we envisage a coin handling session for this event. These sessions are not only run by staff, but also by postgraduates and undergraduates, with the latter thus being to take a leadership role. Widening Participation events are designed to be as interactive as possible with no presumed prior knowledge; in this sense coins, and coin handling sessions are ideal. As objects purchased by the university, we propose to make the purchased coins (as well as other coins belonging to our teaching collection) available for loan to other departments, meaning that the project has the potential to reach even more students across the university.
Once purchased, the coins, as well as the broader teaching collection, will be held permanently by the department/university. Unlike other artefacts, coins are durable and decidedly hard to break; this makes them ideal long-term learning objects. They will be used each year within university teaching, for a variety of purposes and to address a variety of themes, as well as in outreach, impact, and engagement events.