How Old is Ancient?

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Mkm5, Feb 18, 2021.

  1. Mkm5

    Mkm5 Well-Known Member

    Is there a certain time period cut-off?

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  3. coinup

    coinup Junior Member

  4. Victor_Clark

    Victor_Clark all my best friends are dead Romans Dealer

    There is not really a consensus for when the ancient period ended and medieval started, but I like A.D. 330 when Constantine dedicated Constantinople because it comes back around if you end the Medieval period with the fall of the same city in 1453.
  5. NOS

    NOS Former Coin Hoarder

    There is no 100% consensus but if you look at it through the lens of a European orientation it is popular to go with the "Ancient Era" ending in 476 with the fall of Rome and the start of the "Middle Ages" or Medieval Era ending in 1485, a popular cut off time that precedes Columbus by just a few years. You can read what scholars have to say about it here:
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2021
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  6. otlichnik

    otlichnik Well-Known Member

    It also depends on which part of the world you are focussing on.

    Chinese and other Eastern cash are basically unchanged from 2nd c BC to late 19th/early 20th c AD. It makes little sense to break them up based on some arbitrary date.

    Personally, instead of ancient and medieval I like to think of pre-modern - in other words before machine striking.

  7. The Trachy Enjoyer

    The Trachy Enjoyer Well-Known Member

    I consider ancient coins to end in the west in 476 with the fall of "Rome" but continue through Constantinople in the east up until 1453. There is no breaking point in the east between ancient and medieval, and I don't personally think Byzantium ever really crossed that line considering the traditions, society, and institutions remained the same from ancient Greece and "imperial" Rome (In this case up until 476 but which only really ended in 1453)
  8. medoraman

    medoraman Supporter! Supporter

    I do believe it depends on the area of the world. What I always used, (with an exception for Byzantines who spanned the eras), was fall of Rome in West, Rise of Islam in middle east, and Tang dynasty in China. Similar timeframes where something major changed in the world.
  9. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member

    While I agree with the comments above it does require one to accept the possibility of some ancient things being later than other medieval ones. Many collect late Byzantine coins with their ancient coins but consider some coins issued a thousand years before the last Byzantine to be medieval. We deal with a bit of inconsistency when we decide to tack labels on things. I collect coins not made by machines but try to avoid period names. I am, however, offended by those who consider things made in the year I was born 'ancient'. :inpain:
  10. medoraman

    medoraman Supporter! Supporter

    Goes back to lack of education poor word choices. The one I hate is the misuse of decimated, "oh bruh, it was completely wiped out, it was decimated". Decimated means 1/10th, (think decimal), what they probably mean if they were better educated is obliterated.
  11. Mkm5

    Mkm5 Well-Known Member

    Great information guys, thank you!

    Looks like I have a lot of learning to do as I venture out beyond collecting US coins!
  12. Parthicus

    Parthicus Well-Known Member

    This is what I use as well. Of course, it leaves the coins of non-Islamic states in India unaccounted for, but I try not to worry too much over whether a coin is "Ancient" or "Medieval" (or even "Modern")- if I like a coin, I like it.
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  13. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE

    If is is machine made, it is Modern to me.

    However, due to my collecting interests, anything after BCE (BC) or during CE (AD) period is MODERN to my tastes.
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  14. The Trachy Enjoyer

    The Trachy Enjoyer Well-Known Member

    I agree with that. If I buy a Vandal Nummus minted in the late 5th century, I would consider it medieval as the coins were issued by a post-roman state with new institutions and culture. However, even with a Byzantine coin minted in 1453, there was never a break in terms of culture or society.

    If a people called the Romans, who identified themselves as the romans, lived in the empire of the Romans, operated under a Roman monarch, operated under Roman institutions, took part in Roman culture and minted coins under the authority of the Roman state, who are we to say those coins are not Roman and by extension, ancient.
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  15. kevin McGonigal

    kevin McGonigal Well-Known Member

    When I taught high school students history I tried to keep it simple but at the same time give them a sense of chronology. The era of the River Valley Civilizations was from circa 3500 to 500 BC, the Ancient (or Classical) World from circa 500 BC to 500 AD, the Medieval Period from ca. 500 to 1500 AD, early modern times ca. 1500 to 1750 and modern history from 1750 to today. I am certain some will disagree with such a simplistic designation but it had the virtue of being memorable and I think it pretty close to giving the students a sense of time. When it comes to coin collecting I think of the Classical period (as I saw it) as ancients coin time which would include the Byzantines up to about Justinian I, maybe to Heraclius.. My medieval coins begin with Ninth century pennies and when i pick up a late Byzantine it goes into the medieval tray or, if I have room in latest ancient tray. I'm sure that Basil the Bulgar Slayer would object and Alexius would have an absolute fit at being in the same tray with Crusader deniers but we all have to live with imperfect accommodations
  16. Huh, very interesting outlook, Victor.

    I always consider "Ancient" as pre- 476ad, with a exception for Byzantium until about 750, but using Constantinople as a defining point of the middle ages wraps up alot of stuff very nicely.

    Also, P.S., I bought a denarius (Antonius Pius with Marcus Aurelius as Caesar.) from your store on V-Coins and I love it, thank you.
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2021
  17. medoraman

    medoraman Supporter! Supporter

    What @Parthicus and I use is similar. However we adjust for culture, since its an extremely Eurocentric view that something major changed around 500ad. Persians were fine, in fact seldom better. So to avoid the Eurocentric bias, we simply acknowledge slightly different events around the world as the break. They are all within a couple of hundred years apart. The world of 450 ad was dramatically different about everywhere by 700ad.
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  18. The Trachy Enjoyer

    The Trachy Enjoyer Well-Known Member

    Constantinople was in every way in a Roman city. A key distinction that I might agree to is that although Byzantium was Roman, it was the Medieval chapter of that civilization.
  19. Yes, our conception of "Medieval" and Roman don't tend to mix, but there is absolutely overlap, the term "Byzantine" for the later eastern roman empire is a modern invention after all.
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  20. otlichnik

    otlichnik Well-Known Member

    In terms of the West and Rome, I am going to stir up the pot by saying that 476 AD is largely irrelevant.

    Numismatically speaking, it resulted in no change in coinage. The true change in coinage came only in 498 AD, mid-way through Anastasius's reign, with his introduction of the follis-family (M, K, I and E) replacing the sole AE domination, the tiny nummus. This is generally accepted as the Roman - Byzantine dividing line, at least numismatically.

    Historically, 476 was earth-shattering according to some - the end of the Roman Empire et al - but was only a lesser symbolic change according to others - when an ethnically Germanic generalissimo, and true power-behind-the-throne, finally dispensed with the fiction of maintaining a puppet-Emperor in the West and sent the Imperial regalia back to Constantinople with a "no thank you, applicants need not apply" note.

  21. Mkm5

    Mkm5 Well-Known Member

    One thing I have noticed since joining CT last December; there are some seriously educated folks posting in the Ancient forum!

    Looking forward to engaging in more conversation!
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