Peter van Alfen

Dr. Peter van Alfen
Chief Curator

Peter van Alfen trained initially as a classical philologist before continuing his studies in nautical archaeology, participating in ancient shipwreck excavations in Turkey and a survey in the Red Sea with the Institute of Nautical Archaeology (INA). After serving on the board, he continues his association with INA as an affiliated scholar and has been involved in UNESCO‘s on-going attempts to protect underwater cultural heritage. His graduate studies also included a specialization in Mycenaeology; for a number of years he edited Studies in Mycenaean Inscriptions and Dialect.

Joining the ANS in 2002 to oversee the Greek cabinet, he has served the Society as editor of the American Journal of Numismatics (2005-2008), editor of the ANS Magazine (2004-present), and as (co-)director of the Eric P. Newman Graduate Summer Seminar in Numismatics (2002-present). He has (co-)curated a number of exhibits including most recently “Art of Devastation: Medals and Posters of the Great War” with Patricia Phagan. He has taught occasional courses at New York University as an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Classics.

Since 2015, he has co-directed with Ethan Gruber the continuing development of the NEH-funded online resource Hellenistic Royal Coinages (HRC). In 2020, they received, along with colleagues at Oxford University, an additional NEH grant to fund the development of an HRC component focusing on Indo-Greek and Bactrian coinage.

Dr. van Alfen has received fellowships from the Institute for Advanced Study, the Loeb Classical Library Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. In 2017–2018 he was President of the New York Numismatic Club and in 2019 was awarded the Burnett Anderson Memorial Award for Excellence in Numismatic Writing. He is currently a member of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee.


Dr. van Alfen‘s research interests focus on problems of ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern monetary, fiscal and trade systems spanning the Late Bronze Age to the early Byzantine period. He has published on a variety of topics including Mycenaean administration, Athenian public finance and coinage, market regulations, Arabian monetization, and Late Roman amphoras. His interests also extend to European and U.S. medallic art of the 15th–21st centuries. He has (co-)written or (co-)edited a number of books, including White Gold: Studies in Early Electrum Coinage with Ute Wartenberg, Coinage of the Caravan Kingdoms with Martin Huth, and Opthalmologia: Optica et Visio in Nummis with Jay Galst.


Recent articles and chapters:

Co-editor with U. Wartenberg, White Gold: Studies in Early Electrum Coinage (New York and Jerusalem: American Numismatic Society and Israel Museum, 2020), which received the 2020 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Book on Ancient Topic.

Co-editor with Patricia Phagan, Art of Devastation: Medals and Posters of the First World War. New York: American Numismatic Society and Vassar College, 2017, which received the Numismatic Literary Guild’s Award for Best Exhibition Catalogue in 2017. (See also the digital resource).

“Muddle Wrestling: Grappling for Conceptual Clarity in Archaic Greek Money,” in A. Erskine and J. Ober eds. Ancient Greek History and Contemporary Social Science (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2018), pp. 485–511.

“The Role of Coinage in Archaic Aegean-Levantine Overseas Trade: Another Look at TAD C.3.7.” in T. Faucher, ed. Money Rules! The Monetary Economy of Egypt from the Persians until the Beginnings of Islam, Bibliothèque d’Etude 176 (Cairo: IFAO, 2020), pp. 43–67.

“(Dis)unity in the Archaic Monetary Systems of the Western Chalkidian Apoikiai,” Journal of Greek Archaeology 5 (2020): 297–307.

White Gold: Studies in Early Electrum Coinage

Agoranomia: Studies in Money and Exchange, Presented to John H. Kroll

Ophthalmologia Optica et Visio in Nummis

The Art of Devastation: Medallic Art and Posters of the Great War

A Simple Souvenir: Coins and Medals of the Olympic Games

Coinage of the Caravan Kingdoms: Studies in the Monetization of Ancient Arabia

FIDES: Contributions to Numismatics in Honor of Richard B. Witschonke

Essays in Honour of Roberto Russo