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Ancient Greek History and Contemporary Social Science$
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Mirko Canevaro, Andrew Erskine, Benjamin Gray, and Josiah Ober

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781474421775

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474421775.001.0001

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Muddle Wrestling: Grappling for Conceptual Clarity in Archaic Greek Money

Muddle Wrestling: Grappling for Conceptual Clarity in Archaic Greek Money

(p.485) 17 Muddle Wrestling: Grappling for Conceptual Clarity in Archaic Greek Money
Ancient Greek History and Contemporary Social Science

Peter van Alfen

Edinburgh University Press

In recent years, the global trends towards currency homogenization and monetary diversification have attracted the attention of sociologists Nigel Dodd, Geoffrey Ingham, and Viviana Zelizer, each of whom has explored at length not just contemporary monetary practices, but also the nature of money and its long history. In the course of their debates over how to define money, to trace its origins, and to outline the theoretical approaches towards the production and consumption of money in various fields of study, including economics, sociology, and politics, they have worked towards achieving greater clarity where previously there has been what Ingham has called “category errors” and Dodd a “conceptual muddle.” Largely overlooked by those who work on ancient monetary problems, their efforts to disentangle money’s abstractions and materiality offers a path out of some of the thorniest pitfalls in discussions of the development of money in the ancient Mediterranean world, particularly in the archaic period. This chapter demonstrates how Ingham’s and Dodd’s clearly defined, hierarchical units of analysis – money idea, money of account, and currency – can be profitably employed to map and isolate problems in approaches to archaic money that hitherto have been plagued by their own conceptual confusions, not least of which is how to define “money” in an archaic context.

Keywords:   Coinage, Money, Numismatics, Archaic Greek History

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