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  Ancient coin designs encoded increasing amounts of economic information over centuries

Pavlek, B., Winters, J., & Morin, O. (2019). Ancient coin designs encoded increasing amounts of economic information over centuries. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, 56: 101103. doi:10.1016/j.jaa.2019.101103.

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Item Permalink: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0004-D677-5 Version Permalink: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0004-D678-4
Genre: Journal Article

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shh2434.pdf (Publisher version), 2MB
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 Creators:
Pavlek, Barbara1, Author              
Winters, James1, Author              
Morin, Olivier1, Author              
Affiliations:
1The Mint, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Max Planck Society, ou_2301700              

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Free keywords: Cultural evolution, Economic history, Origins of coinage, Graphic symbols, Information theory
 Abstract: Coinage, the practice of minting small bits of metal with distinctive marks, appearing in the second half of the 7th century BCE, had a transformative impact upon ancient economies and societies. Controversies endure concerning the original function of ancient coinage, in particular the respective role of states and markets in its emergence. Applying information-theoretic measures to a corpus of 6859 distinct coin types from the Ancient Mediterranean world, dated between c. 625 and c. 31 BCE, we show that the symbols minted on coins (designs combining images of plants, deities, animals, etc.) became increasingly informative about a coin’s value. This trend was specific to value-relevant information, as distinct from information concerning issuing states. Coin designs also carried more information about higher denominations than about lower ones. Before numerical or written marks of value became widely used on coinage, these iconic symbols were carrying economic information.

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Language(s): eng - English
 Dates: 2019-10-11
 Publication Status: Published online
 Pages: 8
 Publishing info: -
 Table of Contents: -
 Rev. Method: Peer
 Identifiers: DOI: 10.1016/j.jaa.2019.101103
Other: shh2434
 Degree: -

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Title: Journal of Anthropological Archaeology
Source Genre: Journal
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Publ. Info: Amsterdam : Elsevier
Pages: - Volume / Issue: 56 Sequence Number: 101103 Start / End Page: - Identifier: ISSN: 0278-4165
CoNE: https://pure.mpg.de/cone/journals/resource/0278-4165