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<title>Greek and Roman coins</title></titleStmt>

<publicationStmt><distributor>BASE and Oxford Text Archive</distributor>


<availability><p>The British Academic Spoken English (BASE) corpus was developed at the

Universities of Warwick and Reading, under the directorship of Hilary Nesi

(Centre for English Language Teacher Education, Warwick) and Paul Thompson

(Department of Applied Linguistics, Reading), with funding from BALEAP,

EURALEX, the British Academy and the Arts and Humanities Research Board. The

original recordings are held at the Universities of Warwick and Reading, and

at the Oxford Text Archive and may be consulted by bona fide researchers

upon written application to any of the holding bodies.

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following conditions:</p>

<p>1. The recordings and transcriptions should not be modified in any


<p>2. The recordings and transcriptions should be used for research purposes

only; they should not be reproduced in teaching materials</p>

<p>3. The recordings and transcriptions should not be reproduced in full for

a wider audience/readership, although researchers are free to quote short

passages of text (up to 200 running words from any given speech event)</p>

<p>4. The corpus developers should be informed of all presentations or

publications arising from analysis of the corpus</p><p>

Researchers should acknowledge their use of the corpus using the following

form of words:

The recordings and transcriptions used in this study come from the British

Academic Spoken English (BASE) corpus, which was developed at the

Universities of Warwick and Reading under the directorship of Hilary Nesi

(Warwick) and Paul Thompson (Reading). Corpus development was assisted by

funding from the Universities of Warwick and Reading, BALEAP, EURALEX, the

British Academy and the Arts and Humanities Research Board. </p></availability>




<recording dur="00:21:27" n="3120">


<respStmt><name>BASE team</name>



<langUsage><language id="en">English</language>



<person id="nm5082" role="participant" n="n" sex="m"><p>nm5082, participant, non-student, male</p></person>

<person id="nm5083" role="participant" n="n" sex="m"><p>nm5083, participant, non-student, male</p></person>

<person id="nm5084" role="participant" n="n" sex="m"><p>nm5084, participant, non-student, male</p></person>

<personGrp id="ss" role="audience" size="s"><p>ss, audience, small group </p></personGrp>

<personGrp id="sl" role="all" size="s"><p>sl, all, small group</p></personGrp>

<personGrp role="speakers" size="5"><p>number of speakers: 5</p></personGrp>





<item n="speechevent">Seminar</item>

<item n="acaddept">Classics and Ancient History</item>

<item n="acaddiv">ah</item>

<item n="partlevel">UG</item>

<item n="module">unknown</item>





<u who="nm5082"> right well this is <gap reason="name" extent="1 word"/> and he's going to talk about the feasibility and use of Roman aes grave the type of currency that was used immediately before the Hannibalic War which broke out in two-hundred-and-eighteen B-C so over to him and he has the aes grave in front of him </u><u who="nm5083"> yes # these are rather large and heavy coins cast from bronze # one of the # comments that was almost <gap reason="inaudible" extent="1 sec"/> said about the Romans was that # you'd have to carry all your savings around in a wheelbarrow which # feeling these you can understand # </u><u who="nm5082"> what's the approximate weight of this </u><u who="nm5083"> i think that one is # </u><u who="nm5082"> it's about ten ounces isn't it yeah </u><u who="nm5083"> <gap reason="inaudible" extent="1 sec"/> and that was effectively # a fifth of the large # </u><u who="nm5082"> aes signatum blocks

</u><u who="nm5083"> aes signatum blocks which i think we've got </u><u who="nm5082"> right </u><u who="nm5083"> some pictures of there right this was broken down into the various units we've got semis there which was half of that and then these # the denomination is denoted by various pips # going down from four three two and one show the currency # at this time Rome had four different currencies this one seemed to be an intermediary between the Italian blocks of bronze and the # the coins that circulated in south Italy # <trunc>i</trunc> this tended to circulate within Rome itself and that area whereas Rome had other currencies to exchange with the with the other cities it traded with the other areas # but obviously after a while this this became very inconvenient and Rome worked down to # initially a couple of currencies different types of currency and then down to the silver denarii as standard although at the time the they <gap reason="inaudible" extent="1 sec"/> which that presents <trunc>i</trunc> was still nominally the # the unit of

currency in Rome </u><u who="nm5082"> yes how were they actually produced do you think </u><u who="nm5083"> # i think from this you can see that it's # a a cast was produced and you've got a little nodule there so it was poured into the cast it's probably cast with two sides because you can see there it doesn't quite join in the end </u><u who="nm5082"> mm </u><u who="nm5083"> so that was probably an individual cast with some of these # there could be a number of coins put in the same cast and be joined </u><u who="nm5082"> yeah </u><u who="nm5083"> perhaps top and bottom </u><u who="nm5082"> yes you'd have to look for the entry and exit points </u><u who="nm5083"> yes </u><u who="nm5082"> wouldn't you on the side </u><u who="nm5083"> you've also got things like air bubbles where it hasn't actually # the molten metal hasn't actually flowed into all the spaces available there # then again on this one you see that quite a bit and also where where it's worn at the edges as well </u><u who="nm5082"> yes well the important thing to to bear in mind

with this is if the the value was actually within the the metal itself there's no aspect of it being a token coinage # this circulates as a kind of low grade bullion currency and you've got one ass worth of bronze within it so you could simply hand it over and get one ass back unlike the modern currency where you can't get anything back essentially except # more of the same # what what kind of # purchasing power have we # any information about the kind of purchasing power these things had </u><u who="nm5083"> yes we have but i can't think of it at the moment </u><u who="nm5082"> wasn't it something like a hundred a hundred of these would buy you an ox and ten would buy you a sheep </u><u who="nm5083"> yes </u><u who="nm5082"> that was # basically it so this is why i suppose people took their their wealth around on carts if you wanted to buy anything of # particularly large value then certainly that was the only way to do it </u><u who="nm5083"> that's one of the inherent

problems of the coinage that's whether the coin matches the actual value of the metals </u><u who="nm5082"> yes yes </u><u who="nm5083"> in terms of the <gap reason="inaudible" extent="1 sec"/> </u><u who="nm5082"> why were the Romans fixated on on the value actually <trunc>in</trunc> inherent within the metal itself and why bronze why didn't they i mean they did have silver currency but as you said it was for # trading with states that had a basic silver currency why were the Romans so fixed on bronze for themselves </u><u who="nm5083"> well bronze was very plentiful it was also # used as a standard currency in central and # northern Italy </u><u who="nm5082"> mm </u><u who="nm5083"> # and it also seemed to take quite a long time for the Romans to get their heads around the idea of the fact that a coin didn't have to represent # the value of the metal contained # </u><u who="nm5082"> but this was true of the whole of the ancient world wasn't it </u><u who="nm5083"> yes </u><u who="nm5082"> it's true of of

those states that are on a a silver basis for their currency they too have got # the idea that weight equals value and it's only it's only with the advent into the Greek world of bronze that </u><u who="nm5083"> yes </u><u who="nm5082"> # we # actually depart from that idea </u><u who="nm5083"> it's certainly the case i mean but # it's quite i mean the fact that this was still being produced in three-hundred # B-C quite late on the Romans still continued for many years to produce a coinage that was based purely on value </u><u who="nm5082"> mm </u><u who="nm5083"> # and it took them a while to <trunc>remo</trunc> to <trunc>re</trunc> to actually stop producing that coinage where for a period they were producing both that and the silver standard </u><u who="nm5082"> yes yes </u><u who="nm5083"> # </u><u who="nm5082"> but for different purposes </u><u who="nm5083"> yes this is it </u><u who="nm5082"> which is the strange thing they managed to <trunc>di</trunc> to divorce the the basic # purpose of their currencies <trunc>th</trunc> they they it's as though we

were working on the the pound internally but externally we were dealing with dollars over euros # but in many ways its no no different from say what's happening in # in Russia where you can use the the rouble internally but externally of course they have to deal with dollars </u><u who="nm5083"> mm </u><u who="nm5082"> but it's a it is almost peculiar system where # the very weight of this kind of currency actually militates against its use it's not something taht one could even <trunc>d</trunc> use on a day to day basis you couldn't buy a cabbage with any of this kind of material nor i think would you want to </u><gap reason="break in recording" extent="uncertain"/>

<u who="nm5082"> right okay well this is <gap reason="name" extent="1 word"/> again talking about the feasibility and use of fifth and fourth century Athenian currency which is based not on bronze but essentially on a silver standard # ranging from the <trunc>f</trunc> the four drachma piece down to the one-twenty-fourth drachma piece </u><u who="nm5083"> yes with the # the silver coinage was effectively based on a # a content of silver within the # the coins that represent the value # the problem here was when you got down lower in the coinage until the pieces were so minute as to be very easily lost in fact looking at these two there's virtually no difference between them to the naked eye in fact you could probably go as far as saying the three of them that's point-one-sixth of a gram and that's point-two-one of a gram and that one's point-three-two of a gram # but as far as picking them up carrying them around it would be very difficult to tell the difference # this coin here is the obol

which is renowned as the the coin they put under the tongue to pay the ferryman # when you're dead of course # these silver coinage # silver Athenian silver coinage so it's got the the famous owl on the reverse and the head of Athena on the front </u><u who="nm5082"> well one of the problems with these as you've already mentioned is the difficulty of of differentiating them </u><u who="nm5083"> mm </u><u who="nm5082"> there was at times an attempt to differentiate by reverse motifs a lot of them still have the owl on # but that one for instance as you can see just has a single crescent on # </u><u who="nm5083"> and even that would be difficult </u><u who="nm5082"> that would be difficult </u><u who="nm5083"> unless it's a bright light </u><u who="nm5082"> yes but as you can see on that one you've got well originally three crescents on because basically it's three times the value of that </u><u who="nm5083"> yes </u><u who="nm5082"> and one of the later # series for the obol since it was

four of those had four crescents on but this one actually isn't it's an earlier one and still has the the owl and where you've got the standard owl motif that's when you've got problems in differentiating one from another </u><u who="nm5083"> yes it's certainly the case with these the visibility of any design on the back </u><u who="nm5082"> mm </u><u who="nm5083"> would be a very difficult to see </u><u who="nm5082"> yes </u><u who="nm5083"> and also you've got the corresponding difference in quality i mean fitting a head on that compared to that it's # </u><u who="nm5082"> mm </u><u who="nm5083"> would be very easy i mean with this looking at the quality of the # the head # any forgery would tend to be poorer quality and look poorer quality but something like this it'd be very difficult to tell what is was it looks very little more than a blob </u><u who="nm5082"> yes it's <trunc>qu</trunc> very badly centred </u><u who="nm5083"> mm </u><u who="nm5082"> so that's one of the problems we get

that but what is strange is that in # in finds it's this material and especially the tetradrachm which is far commoner to find than these smaller things now why do you think that is </u><u who="nm5083"> well finds tend to be # things like hoards of coins </u><u who="nm5082"> mm-hmm </u><u who="nm5083"> that people keep these could very easily get lost first of all but secondly if you were hoarding coins you'd hoard higher value coins rather than </u><u who="nm5082"> mm-hmm </u><u who="nm5083"> effectively low value coins that were more or less worthless </u><u who="nm5082"> yes i think that's probably it i mean most of these very small things would have found their way into the ground by accident </u><u who="nm5083"> mm </u><u who="nm5082"> and either be overlooked in excavations since they would simply be encrusted in dirt and # and not recognized or in certain circumstances which is simply corrode away </u><u who="nm5083"> yes </u><u who="nm5082"> and it would not be left with anything but these of course

do have a certain presence and as you say they are the ones that are preferentially # hoarded because they're big value and two obols in the fifth century was what was # the equivalent of # social security that would keep a man and a wife for a day so a tetradrachm which is what seven times that is going to be a big value coin and more than a week's wages for most people but what's interesting about this one is that it's actually been chopped </u><u who="nm5083"> yes </u><u who="nm5082"> is there any significance to that </u><u who="nm5083"> yes to # check that it is actually silver quality of the coin make sure that it's not # a plated coin a forgery </u><u who="nm5082"> well if you were plating it what what would the check then reveal </u><u who="nm5083"> it would show # a lesser value metal such as </u><u who="nm5082"> could be </u><u who="nm5083"> # you could put something like bronze in there </u><u who="nm5082"> mm so you'd make a bronze core and then put a layer of silver on either side and

then use some forged or stolen dies to create it and then by chopping it which has obviously been done by a banker with a chisel you're trying to prove whether it's forged or not fortunately that one isn't we can see there there is a slight they were beginning to get differences in the pose of the owl in this fifth century half obol these are side-faced and this one is definitely full-frontal and then as you work your way down and back to the side as well so there is obviously been some attempt to to differentiate at some stage by the pose of the owl # but to a large extent there's not much that one can # do about # people who insist on filing a little bit off to make a profit that way <gap reason="inaudible" extent="1 sec"/> and then passing the # <trunc>c</trunc> coin off as the real thing of full standard weight but how feasible do you think these are in in use i mean you mentioned the small size of them how would you carry them around </u><u who="nm5083"> be very difficult you could

carry it under your # under your tongue for example it would be safe </u><u who="nm5082"> yes we do hear stories of people carrying them under their tongues just have to hope they don't get slapped on the back and swallow them </u><u who="nm5083"> well that's it </u><u who="nm5082"> but otherwise i think you'd have to carry these into you know a very a very well constructed pouch </u><u who="nm5083"> mm </u><u who="nm5082"> or purse </u><u who="nm5083"> can imagine a lot of them would get lost very easily </u><u who="nm5082"> mm yes there is recent research on on these coins has suggested that they are they were originally far more plentiful than find current finds # actually suggest which i think if it it's if it's correct and it seems to be correct would prove that # the loss rate and the total disappearance rate has been very much heavier towards this end of the production than against that end </u><u who="nm5083"> certainly they'd be more used more in day to day # purchases so </u><u who="nm5082">

yes </u><u who="nm5083"> imagine that that would be the case </u><u who="nm5082"> though even so when you're getting two of those to keep you and your wife for a day even this is going to have a certain # degree of of fairly high purchasing power since that is an eighth so is basically a sixteenth of your # your # subsidy for the day </u><gap reason="break in recording" extent="uncertain"/> <u who="nm5084"> the thing in fact the thing about the Greek coins over the the aes grave we were looking at earlier is that these are struck </u><u who="nm5082"> yes </u><u who="nm5084"> rather than cast # and </u><u who="nm5082"> what would the dies be made of then </u><u who="nm5084"> that's a good question actually </u><u who="nm5082"> well it's certainly not silver but i mean what other metals were available </u><u who="nm5084"> # bronze <gap reason="inaudible" extent="1 sec"/> probably </u><u who="nm5082"> yeah i think it is </u><u who="nm5084"> bronze </u><u who="nm5082"> it must have been bronze # because of course the bronze itself had to be had to be worked like # a gem-cutter cutting the gem </u><u who="nm5084"> to create

the to create the image </u><u who="nm5082"> yes to create the negative image that could then be used on the # to create the positives </u><u who="nm5084"> we had the animal that the coin would go on and the die itself # probably created that one you think </u><u who="nm5082"> yeah so the </u><u who="nm5084"> <gap reason="inaudible" extent="1 sec"/> </u><u who="nm5082"> animal the die would have the obverse the head side </u><u who="nm5084"> yeah would have the obverse </u><u who="nm5082"> mm-hmm </u><u who="nm5084"> and the die would sit on top </u><u who="nm5082"> yes </u><u who="nm5084"> and you get which is why you get this squeezing out the material on each edge </u><u who="nm5082"> yes that's </u><u who="nm5084"> as the as the coin is compressed </u><u who="nm5082"> yeah that's the the sign of the original form of the die punch wasn't it </u><u who="nm5084"> yes </u><u who="nm5082"> it created a square pattern </u><u who="nm5084"> you can see you can see it just about here </u><u who="nm5082"> yes </u><u who="nm5084"> the

square of the original die </u><u who="nm5082"> yeah so that the you've got an image actually within the square of the die punch </u><u who="nm5084"> these as you as you stated earlier these are Athenic from Athens # you can see the the mark of Athens there as well as # the owl other areas within Greece had different designs # turtles tortoises # </u><u who="nm5082"> you had shields from Thebes as well didn't you </u><u who="nm5084"> shields from Thebes so </u><u who="nm5082"> so virtually every city state would have its own </u><u who="nm5084"> had its own design </u><u who="nm5082"> have its own design yes </u><u who="nm5084"> which made them # easily recognisable as coming </u><u who="nm5082"> mm </u><u who="nm5084"> from that city state </u><u who="nm5082"> but these don't seem to change essentially you get the the Athenian head # all the way back from the beginning of the fifth century all the way through # until Athenian's currency effectively ended </u><u who="nm5084"> mm-hmm

</u><u who="nm5082"> i mean even when the currency is undergoes its first major revamp sometime towards the end of the second century # Athena's head stays there </u><u who="nm5084"> still in the same place </u><u who="nm5082"> and this particular type of head stays very much the same for well over two-hundred years why do you think the Athenians would want to do that and especially since the old the the the actual <trunc>sh</trunc> form of the head is very much an archaic head # when in terms of statuary they were producing stuff that was much more <trunc>f</trunc> # sophisticated why would they want to stick to an old design like that </u><u who="nm5084"> becomes recognizable </u><u who="nm5082"> why would how would it function as a recognizable feature </u><u who="nm5084"> # okay well if you're if you're continually changing the design # you can keep that side as the owl but if you're continually changing the design # then you're <trunc>m</trunc> moving away from standardized coinage

</u><u who="nm5082"> why would the Athenians want a very standardized coinage for over two-hundred years </u><u who="nm5084"> # </u><u who="nm5082"> was there something about the the area of of circulation with this currency </u><u who="nm5084"> # </u><u who="nm5082"> if i can interpose the answer for you </u><u who="nm5084"> yeah go on then </u><u who="nm5082"> it's basically it is an international currency </u><u who="nm5084"> yeah </u><u who="nm5082"> and they go out of their way to make it like a collecting the dollar </u><u who="nm5084"> yes that was what i wanted to say but </u><u who="nm5082"> yeah </u><u who="nm5084"> i couldn't find the words to say it </u><u who="nm5082"> so it was it's they're they're stamping their city imperialistic tendencies upon their coinage so that these are used in preference </u><u who="nm5084"> yeah these </u><u who="nm5082"> to anything else </u><u who="nm5084"> yeah they're trying to dominate the currency market basically </u><u who="nm5082"> yes yes </u><u who="nm5084"> which is what Athens tends to do </u><u who="nm5082"> mm-hmm

</u><u who="nm5084"> # and this was what i was trying to say that that </u><u who="nm5082"> and this comes acceptable everywhere </u><u who="nm5084"> yeah it becomes very easily recognizable and it's standardized </u><u who="nm5082"> yes </u><u who="nm5084"> and becomes acceptable in fact they are trying to dominate the entire area </u><u who="nm5082"> yes in fact these these take over from the Aegina turtles don't they </u><u who="nm5084"> yes eventually </u><u who="nm5082"> as an international currency that's accepted by everybody like the the dollar today </u><u who="nm5084"> mm </u><u who="nm5082"> and then Alexander the Great comes along and he does exactly the same it's really the battle of who's got the greatest amount of bullion </u><u who="nm5084"> well it's based on the weight standard as well </u><u who="nm5082"> yeah </u><u who="nm5084"> # some city states had different weight standards </u><u who="nm5082"> mm-hmm </u><u who="nm5084"> # and Athens at at one point attempted to

standardize on on this weight </u><u who="nm5082"> and to make everybody else standardize </u><u who="nm5084"> and to make everybody else standardize on those </u><u who="nm5082"> yeah </u><u who="nm5084"> and Alexander eventually did exactly the same and moved towards the Athenic weight standard </u><u who="nm5082"> yes and # knocked it off its pedestal </u><u who="nm5084"> knocked it off its pedestal </u><u who="nm5082"> simply by force of of volume so these things thanks to the Laurium mines were big business they were thrown out in their millions # they were spent on large prestigious state # enterprises like the building of the Acropolis and the building up of the Athenian navy and they were they basically flooded the market with them and anybody else who wanted to # do any international trade of any soon found that these were the acceptable types of coins being used right across # the Greek world in preference except on a very local basis to anything else