Thursday, 20th September 2018 – “Coins, Gold and Empire”

Professor Nicholas Cahill, Director, Archaeological Exploration of Sardis

Venue:  Lower Ground Square Theatre, Imperial College Business School, Imperial College - London, South Kensington Campus, London SW7 2AZ

(South Kensington Tube Station)

Timing/Programme:  6:30 pm – welcome drinks;    7:00 pm – lecture&discussion;     8:00 pm – cocktails in the foyer

Located about 70km inland from the Aegean Sea, Sardis was the capital of the Lydian Empire, the seat of King Croesus, and the place where coinage was first invented and used. Indeed, during the seventh and sixth centuries BC, Lydian strength was based in large part on their control of the gold mines of western Anatolia, their mastery of accurately and predictably controlling the composition of gold, and the related invention of coinage. These skills enabled them to become the most powerful empire in the region. A thousand years later, the lower city of Sardis was all but abandoned and the city turned from a metropolis into a fortified citadel. The Roman coins of this era reveal important changes in circulation that accompanied the broad transformations of late antiquity. This lecture will share some of the exciting recent findings at the site regarding money, its enablement of the dominance of the region by the Lydians, and the story of coinage at Sardis – with perhaps some relevance to the present day.

Excavations at Sardis have been carried out by Harvard and Cornell Universities since 1958. It is directed by Professor Cahill, of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.