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Online Course on Islamic Coins
October 14, 2018
“State Authority, Administrative Structures and Its Reflection on Coinage” (winter term 2018/2019) – Prof. Stefan Heidemann
Bi-weekly, Wednesday, 4.00 to 6.00 pm CET
First session: Wednesday, October 31, 2018
Last session: Wednesday, January 23, 2019
This webinar is part of the “Webinar Initiative in Islamic Material Culture” jointly organized by the Universität Bonn (Bethany Walker), the Ludwig-Maximilian-Universität in Munich (Andreas Kaplony), NYU in New York (Abigail Krasner Balbale), and Universität Hamburg (Stefan Heidemann).
Why Coins and Why Administration?
For the period prior to the fifteenth century, historians of Islamic societies have few primary documents or archives at hand, and even less for the first three centuries of the Empire. Most documents are coming from Egypt and more and more are discovered in Khurāsān. But for the rest of the early Islamic world these documents are largely missing. Islamic coins are the most prolific epigraphic sources for pre-1500 history in the Middle East. Nevertheless, their potential for understanding history is often neglected. Islamic coins as bearers of texts – there can be up to 150 words on one coin – are unique in the history of civilization. They offer the often needed primary independent evidence for administrative practices and state authority produced in the course of events. Their design includes numerous hints, which have to be decoded. The coin is able to serve different historiographic fields such as political, economic, industrial, social and legal history as well as Islamic art and material culture. As groups, coins constitute a source of their own – a sequence of changing texts generated from coins over the decades from a single mint can serve as narrative for local and imperial history.
What Does the Webinar Offer?
While this course is not an introductory course in numismatics, it is nevertheless designed to introduce historians and archaeologists to the main issues of working with Islamic coins and to answer questions on state authority and administration based on coins and coin sequences.
The Webinar explores the different dimensions of the coin as source for state authority and administration. The goal is to learn to exploit coinage for historical research within historical Islamic studies.
- Terms and Terminology of Coins and Coinage
- Coin Design and Its Functions
- Legal Context of Coinage and Contracts in the Middle East
- The Social Function of Money
- The Administrative History of Coin Production in the Islamic Empire
- Who are the People Named on the Coins and Why?
- Comparison Between Coinage and Narrative History Case Studies
Prerequisites for Participation
Spoken and written proficiency in English language. The course is open to all advanced students in B.A., M.A., and PhD programs of Islamic studies, historians, art historians, and archaeologists of the Middle East. All students need a computer, reliable internet access, and a headset. In a short personal Skype interview in early October 2018, we will check whether all technical assets are working.
Students from Hamburg have to sign up in the campus system ‘Stine’ and to contact Stefan Heidemann as early as possible to register and get the necessary introduction into the technology. Students from other universities than Universität Hamburg are welcome and have to apply with a short CV and a motivation letter in English. The applications should be sent to Prof Stefan Heidemann (firstname.lastname@example.org) until October 14, 2018. Preference is given to students from universities within the network of the webinar initiative “Islamic Material Culture”. Interviews will be held until October 27, 2018.