American Numismatic Society
American Numismatic Society



Columbia University Classics Colloquium Series


Tuesday, 12 March, 2013, 4:10 pm

Room 616, Hamilton Hall, Columbia University Reception to follow in Hamilton 617b

Margaret Thompson Curator of Greek Coins Peter van Alfen will speak on "Metoikêsis and Archaic Monetary Authority: Teos-Abdera and Phokaia-Velia" as part of the Columbia University Classics Colloquium Series.

The abstract of the paper is as follows:

'"In response to Persian pressure during their conquest of Asia Minor in the mid-sixth century BC, the inhabitants of two poleis, Phokaia and Teos, decided to relocate, the former to the western Mediterranean, the latter to Abdera in Thrace. In both instances, however, the metoikêsis (“urban relocation”) was not complete with around half of the population returning home a short time later. Very soon after their relocation and re-habitation, the two halves of the poleis, again in both instances, began to produce similar coinages, the mechanisms for which have been variously explained as “planned conjunction,” the transplantation of cultural baggage, or simply imitation. While we know from later epigraphic and textual evidence that Teos and Abdera especially had an unusually close relationship, ambiguities about the social, political and economic aspects of the relationship raise a number of questions, including those concerning sovereign power and by extension monetary authority. Through the lens of metoikêsis, I explore in this paper the nature of archaic monetary authority and its links to identity, place, and state and society. I argue that, in these two cases of relocation/re-habitation, monetary authority resided not in the formal concept of an independent “State” and its bureaucracy hovering above society and tethered to one location, but rather that it was embedded simultaneously within Teos-Abdera and Phokaia-Velia. More specifically, it resided within the interconnected governing elite and populace of that first mid-sixth century generation, in their still unified ethnic identity, and in the many personal relationships that held them together even, most critically, when they were living hundreds or thousands of kilometers apart from one another."