Numismatics in Archaeology

Qumran

Qumran

Fancy words for a simple concept. Studying coins found at a historic site to determine who lived there and what the site was used for. Using things as simple as the type or amount of coins to minor defects in the minting as clues to the site’s significance. By analyzing the coins you can determine what part of the world they came from and when they were minted. Sometimes a batch of coins will be minted as payments for the military. Sending a unique batch of coins to one group provides a historical breadcrumb trail for archaeologists to follow.

A Wikipedia article I stumbled upon sparked this interest. It’s about the ancient settlement of Qumran in Israel where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. Several interpretations have been put forth as to the function of Qumran. Everything from religious settlement, trading post, military garrison, or a combination of all 3. I found the section on numismatics particularly interesting. By studying the coins, where they came from, and who they were given to the researchers come up with a reasonable picture of what was happening at Qumran.

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