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Tokens: Culture, Connections, Communities - 08-09-10/06/2017, Coventry (England)


The roles and power of the everyday objects in constituting social life has increasingly become an area of interest across multiple disciplines. Often used or handled unconsciously, everyday objects nonetheless enable different types of governance, relationships and communities, contributing to the formation and maintenance of ideologies, identities and normative orders. This conference focuses on one category of everyday object, the token, inviting an interdisciplinary exploration of the roles these objects have played from the beginnings of human civilisation until the present day. These small, unassuming objects perform significant functions within human society, and have shaped communities, institutions and relationships over time. ‘Token’ is a deceptively simple object category whose boundaries remain difficult to define. Is there a difference between ‘tokens’ and ‘money’, between ‘tokens’ and ‘symbols’, or between tokens and other categories of object? How should we approach and study these objects? Can a historical perspective on tokens offer a better understanding of these media and their role in the present day? We invite submissions from those working with tokens across all time periods, including (but not limited to) museum curators, artists, archaeologists, historians, anthropologists, sociologists, numismatists and material culture specialists. An interdisciplinary approach will enable us to develop a better understanding of tokens and their ubiquitous presence in many cultures across time.

FECHA/DATE/DATA: 08-09-10/06/2017

LUGAR/LOCATION/LUOGO: Humanities Building, University of Warwick (Coventry, England)

ORGANIZADOR/ORGANIZER/ORGANIZZATORE: Department of Classics and Ancient History, University of Warwick,

INFO: web -



Thursday 8th June

11.00am: Welcome (Clare Rowan)

Token “Becoming”: The creation and alteration of tokens and belief

11.15-11.45am: ‘Success to the seventeen united bright stars’; the Spithead mutiny of 1797 recorded on a sailor’s love token. Bridget Millmore (University of Brighton / British Museum volunteer)

11.45am-12.15pm: “Blessings made of dust”: Byzantine pilgrim tokens and their role in the devotional practices of pilgrimage.Vicky Foskolou (University of Crete)

12.15-12.45pm: Tokens as amulets? Some remarks about Christian iconographieson contorniates. Cristian Mondello (Università degli Studi di Messina, Italy)

12.45-1.45pm: Lunch

Tokens and the Representation of Future Potential

1.45-2.15 pm: Athenian Tokens, Knowns and Unknowns: An Overview. Jack Kroll (University of Oxford)

2.15-2.45 pm: Tokens in Hindu Marriage Ceremonies: Forming a Bond and Beyond. Shipra Upadhyay (Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology, India)

Tokens, Money, and Value

2.45-3.15pm: 'Currency or coupons? The role of lead tokens in Roman Egypt'. Denise Wilding (Warwick)

3.15-3.45pm: The foreign bronze coins of the Athenian agora in the 4th century BC as token money. Kenneth Sheedy (Australian Centre for Ancient Numismatic Studies, Macquarie University, Australia)

3.45-4.15pm: Coffee

4.15-4.45pm: The unpublished Iberian tokens in the Richard B. Witschonke Collection at the American Numismatic Society. Lucia Francesca Carbone (American Numismatic Society, NY, USA)

4.45-5.15pm: Towards a Commodity Theory of Token Money: (Material-)Semiotic Approaches to the Intrinsic Value of Fiat Currencies. Chris Vasantkumar (Macquarie University, Australia)

5.15-6.15: Plenary lecture: Tokens, Honor, Tribute, Tithe: Rank and Recognition in the Making of Money. Bill Maurer (UC Irvine)

6.15pm: Drinks reception

Friday, 9th June

Tokens in Museums: Problems and Potential

9.30-10am: “Naughty by nature”. Notes on the iconography of bronze tesserae in the Münzkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. Alexa Küter (Münzkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin)

10-10.30am: Tokens from the Collections in the Numismatic Museum Brought to Light. George Kakavas (Athens Numismatic Museum)

10.30-11am: Tokens inside and outside the excavation context: seeking the origin. Examples of clay tokens from the collections of the Athens Numismatic Museum. Stamatoula Makrypodi (Athens Numismatic Museum)

11-11.30am: Coffee

Tokens within the Landscape: Interpreting Archaeological Context

11.30am-12pm: Civic ritual and personal faith: an assemblage of tokens and sculpture from a Roman house on the Kolonos Agoraios at Athens. Mairi Gkikaki (University of Warwick) and Brian Martens (Oxford)

11.30am-12pm: A terracotta token in context: a fortunate and recorded discovery from the necropolis of Tindari (Messina, 1896). Antonino Crisà (University of Warwick)

12-12.30pm: The Holme Cultram Abbey series and English tokens 1200-1530. Kate Rennicks (University of Bristol)

12.30-1.30pm: Lunch

Tokens and their creators: authority and community

1.30-2pm: How royal tokens constituted an art medium which strengthened the monarchical system of the 17thcentury. Sabrina Valin (Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense)

2.00-2.30pm: Seventeenth Century Tokens and their Issuers: Placing Tokens in their Social and Economic Context. Laura Burnett (Portable Antiquities Scheme, Somerset)

2.30-3pm: Casting Communities. The tokens and moulds from ancient Rome. Clare Rowan (University of Warwick)

3.00-3.30pm: Civic Life in Roman Asia Minor and the World of Ephesian Tesserae. Christina Kuhn (Oxford)

3.30-4pm: Coffee

Tokens, Authority and Government

4.00-5pm: Plenary Lecture: The Power of Tokens. Denise Schmandt-Besserat (Texas)

Conference dinner: Venue tbc.

Saturday, 10th June

Tokens, Authority and Government (continued)

9.30-10am: The rise of accounting and administration in the central plateau of Iran during the fourth millennium BC. Niloufar Moghimi (University of Tehran) and Hossein Davoudi (Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran)

10-10.30am: Owls Depicted on Lead Tokens/Symbola: A General Approach.Efterpi Ralli (Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports)

10.30am-11am: The armour tokens from the Athenian Agora. Martin Schäfer (Archaeological Society, Athens)

11am-11.30am: Coffee

Tokens and Cognition

11.30 – 12pm: How a (material) token becomes a (conceptual) one: insight from numbers in the ancient Near East. Karenleigh A. Overmann (University of Oxford)

12-12.30pm: Healing and Harming: the Token in early modern England. Annie Thwaite (University of Cambridge)

12.30-12.45pm: Thanks and farewell.

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