This exhibition explores the foundations of numismatic study of Roman and Byzantine coins.
As early as the 14th century, scholars such as Petrarch recognized ancient coins as historical evidence, and individuals had begun to collect coins, medallions, and replicas of coins for their personal enjoyment and study. During the 15th century, a fashion for collecting coins, especially those linked to famous historical figures, led to the creation of large private, royal, and papal collections.
Renaissance humanism fueled scholarly interest in coins bearing portraits of historical figures and inscriptions. In many histories and biographies of Roman emperors published during this period, illustrations of coins were included with the text to allow the author and reader the opportunity to compare the evidence of the ancient texts with that of the coins.
The first illustrated books on numismatics appeared in the 16th century. Early scholarship focused on identifying authentic coins, comparing their value to modern coinage, and debating the history of coinage.
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