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Coins, Inscriptions and Papyri


Numismatics (the study of coins), Epigraphy (the study of ancient inscriptions) and Papyrology (the study of documents written on papyrus) are three of the 'auxiliary sciences' of history.



Coins, and the images and legends on them, can be used to date archaeological finds, shed light on the government and ideology of their period as well as witness to the economic conditions and trade relations of their time.

Inscriptions on public buildings, tombs or personal artifacts can likewise provide much information about the public and private lives of the civilisations to which they belong.

The Barber Institute of Fine Arts in the University of Birmingham is an important centre for the study of numismatics, and their Coin Collection houses around 16,000 specimens of Roman, Byzantine and Medieval Islamic coins among others.

In the Main Library, books on numismatics can be found at the CJ classmark, and those on epigraphy at the CN classmark.

Click on the appropriate tab on the right to find more resources for research into these subjects.

Images: Aureus of Emperor Antoninus (Elagabalus) 3rd cent AD [OCRE]
Foundation stone of amphitheatre at Pompeii, 80 BC [Alamy Stock Photo]


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