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Striking Images: Hellenistic Portraits in the Nickle Coin Collection

Thursday, February 27, 2014 to Friday, March 7, 2014

Curated by Dr. Karen Aberle

Portraits on modern coins are so standard that we rarely give them a second glance. While these images have their roots in the ancient world, it was only during the Hellenistic Period (ca. 323-32 BC) the tradition of coin portraits fully developed. Striking Images: Hellenistic Portraits in the Nickle Numismatics Collection, explores how, from this period, portraits on coins developed and helped consolidate political power.

The exhibition is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue and was held in association with the 2014 Nickle Numismatic Lecture featuring Dr. François de Callataÿ.

Opening Reception: 
Thursday, March 6, 2014 - 6:30pm

Dr. François de Callataÿ

Greek coinage and war: The unique case of coins struck by Mithradates Eupator,
the last great Hellenistic king

Mithridates Eupator, king of Pontus (c. 120-63 BC), has left his mark as the last great Hellenistic king, the last one who dared to oppose the Romans in several wars. To the modern numismatist, his abundant coinage offers a unique opportunity, not equalled by any other evidence for the Greco-Roman world, to study the rhythm of monetary production. Most of his coins may dated to the precise month they were issued. Among the many results deriving from this exceptional case-study, two deserve to be emphasized: 1) royal gold and silver coins were mainly (if not only) struck for military purposes but less so during the wars than before and after; 2) only a part of all military expenditures were paid in coins.

François de Callatay is a specialist of ancient Greek coinages and finances with a special interest for Hellenistic royal coinages, from Alexander the Great to Mithridates Eupator. He is possibly best known for his many works about numismatic quantification, estimating the sizes of ancient coinages put into circulation, and the general link between monetary strikes and military purposes. His work also focuses on ancient economy in the long term and antiquarianism during the 16th-18th c. (mainly through numismatics). He is head of department at the Royal Library of Belgium, professor at the Université libre de Bruxelles and directeur d'études at the Ecole pratique des Hautes Etudes (Paris). He is a member of the Royal Academy of Belgium (Class of Letters), of the Academia Europaea and a corresponding member of the Institut de France (Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres). He was awarded the Francqui prize in 2007.

The lecture was accompanied by the exhibition, Striking Images: Hellenistic Portraits in the Nickle Coin Collection, curated by Karen Aberle as well as an illustrated catalogue.

The Nickle Numismatic Lecture is funded by the Nickle Family Foundation with additional support from the Department of Greek and Roman Studies.

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