The aims of our project
The Coin Hoards of the Roman Empire Project is a joint initiative of the Ashmolean Museum and the Oxford Roman Economy Project. It is the brainchild of Baron Lorne Thyssen-Bornemisza and is funded by the Augustus Foundation. It intends to fill a major lacuna in the digital coverage of coin hoards from antiquity. It aims to collect information about hoards of all coinages in use in the Roman Empire between approximately 30 BC and AD 400. Imperial coinage forms the main focus of the project, but Iron Age and Roman Provincial coinages in circulation within this period are also included to give a complete picture of the monetary systems of both the West and the East. The Project also includes hoards of Roman coins from outside the Empire to demonstrate Rome's economic and cultural reach. The hoards currently documented contain over 8 million coins. The intention of the Project is to provide the foundations for a systematic Empire-wide study of hoarding and to promote the integration of numismatic data into broader research on the Roman Economy.
What is a hoard?
Not all coin hoards are great treasures; their contents vary from tens of thousands of gold or silver coins to a handful of bronze. The Project employs a broad definition of a coin hoard as any group of coins which appears to have been deposited together. Such groups provide evidence for which coins circulated together, or at least were available in a given context.
The Project pragmatically records all coin assemblages that were originally published as hoards but assigns them to different categories, such as ‘group of single finds’, where they fall outside our definition. When it is clear that a votive deposit was deposited as a single group we include it, but we exclude serial votive deposits of individual coins over a considerable period. Likewise we record burial or grave deposits as hoards where a group of coins was clearly buried together, for example in a purse; otherwise burial or grave deposits may be recorded as a group of single finds where it is deemed appropriate. We record other kinds of object included in coin hoards, such as plate or jewellery, and also describe any surviving containers and details of contexts. In addition we systematically include single finds of gold coins as their high value and archaeological behaviour merit their consideration as hoards in themselves.
What sort of data are we currently collecting?
The project is currently in its second phase (initially 2019-2023).
In Phase 1 (2013-18) we aimed to collect summary hoard data from all Roman provinces, as well as inputting a selection of hoards at the level of the individual coin. During that phase we together succeeded in putting online summary records for 12,144 hoards and single gold coins, amounting to no fewer than 3.5 million coins. For pragmatic reasons we had to delay completion of entries for some countries.
The aims of Phase 2 (initially 2019-2023) are to complete geographical coverage and to undertake the daunting task of systematically recording hoards at the level of the coin (including RIC numbers and full descriptions), where such data are available. This ambitious programme will dramatically increase the usefulness of the data. We were also increasingly being offered data on Roman hoards from outside the Empire and have now extended the project to include them, as again it will significantly increase research potential.
Please be aware that the data on this website are constantly being updated and expanded and should not be considered comprehensive. Inevitably data entry is more advanced for some regions than for others.
Until hoards have been marked as validated by a contributor, they will not appear in searches or be visible to public users.
Want to learn more?
If you have queries about the project or would like to contribute digital data or images of hoards, please contact one of the team who will be happy to help.