News (Spring 2003)

Edward E. Cohen Lecture

On December 9, 2002, the ANS and The Center for the Ancient Mediterranean at Columbia University jointly hosted Edward E. Cohen who presented a talk entitled “Money and Sex: Ancient Athenian Banking Scandals.” Cohen received a Ph.D. in Classics from Princeton University and currently serves as CEO of Philadelphia-based Resource America, Inc. Both a businessman and a classical scholar, Dr. Cohen has offered his unique perspective of ancient economic and social matters in several well-received books including The Athenian Nation and Athenian Economy and Society: A Banking Perspective.

Michael Alram Coming to the ANS

Dr. Michael Alram, Vice-Director of the Coin Cabinet at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, will present the plenary lecture at the conference “The Heritage of Sasanian Iran: Dinars, Drahms and Coppers of the Sasanian and Early Muslim Periods.” The conference is meeting at the ANS Thursday and Friday, June 19-20, 2003. The lecture is entitled “Ardashir and the Power of Images.”

Dr. Alram is a well known scholar of Classical and Sasanian numismatics. He studied Classical Archaeology, Ancient Numismatics and Ancient History at Vienna University, completing a doctoral thesis under the supervision of R. Göbl and M. Mayerhofer entitled “Materialgrundlagen zu den iranischen Personennamen auf antiken Münzen.” He later completed his Habilitation in Numismatics and began teaching in the department of Numismatics at Vienna University in 1982. He became a full professor in 1987.

Dr. Alram has served since 1987 as Curator for Byzantine, Medieval and Oriental Coins at the Coin Cabinet of the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, and is currently the Vice-Director of the department. He is a member of the Iranian Commission at the AAS, executive board member of the Societas Iranologica Europaea and executive board member (vice-president) of ICOMON (International Committee for Money and Banking Museums).

In his lecture, Dr. Alram will discuss the development of a new and lasting concept of empire and dynasty in Iran by the first Sasanian monarch Ardashir I (AD 224-41). The Sasanian empire maintained this concept of power and identity for more than four hundred years, until the Arab conquests in the seventh century. The efforts of Ardashir bear many parallels to the Roman emperor Augustus’ formulation of the traditions of imperial Rome.

The local traditions of Ardashir’s homeland in Fars inspired not only his revision of the political system but also changes in the social, economic and religious institutions of greater Iran. Arsacid and Hellenistic traditions played a smaller but important role. In communicating his new ideas, Ardashir relied on the important mediums of art and coins. His coins thus document in an impressive way Ardashir’s career from a local king of Fars to the king of kings of the Iranians, whose lineage descends from the gods. The typological evolution of the coins help give a detailed picture about what happened in the first half of the third century AD. They can be dated with reference to inscriptions and information gleaned from Roman and Arab historians. A precise typological analysis enables not only the reconstruction of the chronological sequence of the different coin types, but also gives insight into early mint organization. Finally, metallurgical analyses help establish the place of Sasanian coinage amidst other contemporary currencies of the Near East, i.e., the Roman system in the West and that of the Kushanas in the East.

The conference Heritage of Sasanian Iran meeting this June is devoted to the discussion of Sasanian and early Muslim coins as artifacts of Iranian civilization and culture. Papers will examine numismatic, historical and art historical problems. The conference will feature a workshop in reading the Pahlavi legends on these coins and a roundtable for the discussion of issues of common interest and unusual coins of those who wish to bring them in. For further information about the conference and the place and time of Dr. Alram’s lecture, please contact Dr. Stuart D. Sears at, or Dr. Michael L. Bates at

Perricelli Reorganizes Society Paper Money

Richard Perricelli, a member of the ANS since 1991, has volunteered to consolidate and organize our collection of world paper money, as a result of a conversation with Michael Bates at the Society’s NYINC dinner in January. The Society now has two paper money collections of about equal size: its original collection, built up by many gifts over the years, and the collection of Arthur Mintz, donated in 1992, numbering 13,217 pieces.

Richard Perricelli

The original collection is stored alphabetically by country in two filing cabinets with sixteen file card drawers. All the bills are in mylar envelopes with adhesive labels. For over a century, the collection was quite disorganized. Most of the bills were still in the boxes, albums, or envelopes in which they had arrived. It was Dr. Richard Doty, Curator of Modern Coins from 1974 to 1986, who put the bills in order and labeled them with identifications, sources, and standard “Pick” catalogue numbers.

Mr. Mintz’s collection came to us in thirteen corrugated 5 x 8 boxes full of labeled mylar envelopes, slightly different from those used by the ANS but easy to fit in with our system. Over the decade since the donation, the bills of a very small number of countries have been integrated, but it was not practical to integrate the two collections. There is not enough space in the filing cabinet drawers, nor is there any space where additional cabinets could go (the new building will solve that problem). Most of the Mintz collection has been stored in a counter-height metal cabinet, still in the original corrugated boxes.

As a temporary expedient, Perricelli is integrating the two collections into one alphabetical sequence. The first part of the alphabet will be stored in the drawers, and the remainder in the cabinet. We are also taking this opportunity to integrate some valuable recent donations, such as Professor Edward Allworth’s gift of 500 banknotes of Central Asia and Russia, mostly from the Bolshevik period, donated in 2000. In the first editions of Krause-Mishler’s catalogue of world paper money, many of these revolutionary notes were cataloged as subdivisions of the U.S.S.R. or Russia, but now they are catalogued as early issues of the independent states they have become, in their alphabetical order. These issues and other recent political changes, such as the breakup of Yugoslavia and new national names in Africa, will require some reordering as the integration goes along. The order of countries and the order of items within each country will follow Pick. Items not in Pick will be inserted in their chronological place.

The paper money collection is one of the relatively neglected treasures of the Society. Contributions since the nineteenth century have brought in many rarities from the U.S. and the world. The entire Mintz collection was computer-catalogued at the time of its accession, but the main collection is still catalogued only in part. Volunteers who can undertake to catalogue one country at a time are invited. Meanwhile, the staff are grateful to Richard Perricelli for undertaking this massive reorganization, which will make life easier for everyone.

Heath Teaching at Cincinnati

Sebastian Heath, the ANS’ Director of Information Technology, will teach “Archaeological Computing” to graduate students in the Department of Classics at the University of Cincinnati in the spring term. The course will cover the design of relational databases, the use of geographic information systems (GIS) to create archaeological maps, and applications of the Extensible Markup Language (XML) to academic publishing. The term runs from late March to early June and Mr. Heath will travel to Cincinnati on Mondays for the weekly meeting.

Numismatic Lectures in New Orleans

Last October 15, Prof. Thomas Martin, a former ANS councilor, and Sebastian Heath gave a joint presentation on humanities computing at Tulane University. The pair had been invited by Professor Kenneth Harl, a current councilor, to discuss the ways that computers can promote innovative modes of teaching and discussion in the liberal arts. “Our basic point was that the Internet is changing student’s relationship to information,” says Heath. Professor Martin gave an overview of how far we have come from the days of restricted access to computers that prevailed when he first started to see the possibilities inherent in their application to the study of the Classical World. He ended with a call to arms that challenged the mostly undergraduate audience not only to make use of existing resources but also to work to keep the Humanities relevant in a technological world. Sebastian Heath’s talk was entitled “From Museum to Digital Library at the American Numismatic Society.” Using the ANS website as an example, he showed that the Internet allows a small cultural institution like the ANS to contribute to discussions of almost any historical topic. “I showed that we have materials for the study of Ancient History, U.S. history, and even the local history of New Orleans. The Internet allows us to turn our highly-specialized collection into a generally accessible resource and this ensures us a continuing role in an increasingly inter-linked world.”

Numismatics at the AIA/APA Meetings

Each year the Archaeological Institute of America and the American Philological Association hold joint meetings that bring together academics whose main interest is the study of the ancient Greco-Roman world. The 104th meeting was held in January in New Orleans and as always featured a wide range of numismatic papers. The AIA sessions included the concisely named “Greek and Roman Coinage,” which was chaired by Kenneth Harl, Professor of History at Tulane University and an ANS councilor. The following papers were presented: “Boiotian Coinage and Trade in the Late Sixth Century B.C.E.,” by Stephanie Larson, University of California, Santa Cruz; “The Sign of the Boar: Archaic Ships, Coins, and Pirates,” by the ANS’ own Peter van Alfen; “A Redating of the Coins of Citium,” by former ANS seminar student Kenneth Tuite now of the University of Texas at Austin; “A Tale of Two Cities: Reconstructing Civic Histories from the Excavation Coins of Stymphalos and Mytilene,” by Robert Weir , University of Waterloo; “Pseudo-Autonomous Coins in the Roman West? Augustus, Carteia, and Emporion,” by Edward Zarrow, Brasenose College, Oxford University; and “Representations of the Full Circle of the Zodiac in the Second and Third Centuries A.D.,” by former ANS curator Carmen Arnold-Biucchi now of Harvard University Art Museums. The abstracts for these papers are available at the AIA website (

The main numismatic event in the APA program was sponsored by the Friends of Numismatics and included the following papers: “Illustrating Money,” by Brooks Emmons Levy of Princeton University; “A New Image of Diocletian, Part 1: Monarch and Dyarchy,” by James Ermatinger, South East Missouri University; “What Numismatists Can Tell Archaeologists about a Site,” by Jane DeRose Evans of Temple University; and “Horizontal Coin Scatter and Site Use at Nemea,” by Robert Knapp of the University of California at Berkeley. Dr. Knapp’s paper was based on his publication of the coins from Nemea, which will appear in the series devoted to the results of that project. Carmen Arnold-Biucchi and William Metcalt were the discussants.

Other papers with substantial numismatic content were 2002 Summer Seminar attendee Shannan Stewart’s “The Manipulation of Space in Domitian’s Ludi Saeculares” and Steven Tuck’s “The Origins of Imperial Hunting Imagery: Domitian and the Redefinition of Virtus.”

In addition to these papers, the Friends of Numismatics and the Paley Foundation sponsored a fine gathering on Saturday evening. Kenneth Harl was again the host and the event was very well attended.

ANS Hires New Museum Administrator

Joanne D. Isaac recently joined the ANS as our new Museum Administrator. Among her duties, she will be responsible for the administration of the Executive Director’s office and in conjunction will oversee the co-ordination of publications including the ANS Magazine. She will act as our Educational Liaison Officer for school programs and exhibition functions. Joanne has worked in the contemporary American art gallery arena for more than 10 years. Most recently she was the Assistant Director at Denise Bibro Fine Art, located in Chelsea, the center of the New York art gallery scene. She brings with her a strong background in arts management, exhibition development and traveling exhibitions. An artist herself, she carves wands made of soft woods (that she refers to as her whittling) and lately has been creating memorial boxes, most recently displayed in a September 11, 2001 memorial exhibition that traveled between Washington D.C. and Philadelphia. Joanne received her B.F.A. from Temple University’s Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia, and her M.F.A. from C.U.N.Y., Hunter College.

Editorial Addition

Müşerref Yetim has temporarily joined the editorial team to assist with the timely publication of Yakov Meshorer’s two volume catalog and commentary of the Abe Sofer collection. A native of Istanbul, Turkey, Yetim is currently finishing her Ph.D. in the Government department at the University of Texas. This year she is a visiting scholar at The Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies at New York University.

Müşerref Yetim

New Curatorial Assistant

Alexandra Halidisz, a native of Budapest, Hungary, has been hired as a Curatorial Assistant for the Greek vault. A recent graduate in Art History and Classics at Hofstra University, Halidisz is hoping to continue her studies in a graduate program this fall. In the meantime, her efficiency and dedication (not to mention her good cheer!) have been put to good use assisting with the myriad tasks, large and small, in the vault.


Professional photographer Alan Roche is now a frequent visitor to the ANS assisting with the increasingly number of photo orders. A native of Wexford, Ireland, Roche completed his BFA in photography at the University of Illinois in 1992 and has since been based in New York City.

Alan Roche

Docent Profile

Since the opening of the ANS exhibit, Drachmas, Doubloons and Dollars, at the Federal Reserve Bank in January, 2002, Michael Parris has spent most every Monday morning at the exhibit as a docent. A retired pharmaceutical chemist, Parris’ varied interest in coinage began when he was a boy in New York City; more recently his collection has focused on Greek and Roman coins. His long association with ANS began in 1958, when he became a member of the Society, a membership that was broken only during the two years that he served in Vietnam as an Army platoon leader, where he was twice decorated. Once again, the ANS thanks Parris for his continued volunteer work at the Fed exhibit. We also thank the other (former) docents Jerry Haggerty, Peter Sugar, and William Bischoff. If you would be interested in volunteering as a docent, please contact Joanne Issac at 212-234-3130 x 217 for more details.