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Numismatic Archaeology of North America - Contributions, Progress, and Prospects

Part of: Society for Historical Archaeology 2017

Numismatic archaeology in North America is a developing sub-discipline within historical archaeology. Coins, tokens and other forms of money are recovered from archaeological sites throughout North America but until recently, their interpretive potential has not been fully understood. Numismatic material culture and the contexts in which it is recovered is laden with behavioral information that can shed lilght on agency, technology, commerce, ritual and symbolism, and aspects of how material culture enters the archaeological record. This symposium shares the results of several diverse studies conducted with numismatic material culture, both from terrestrial and underwater contexts. It brings together researchers interested in advancing numismatic archaeology; the symposium will wrap up with an open discussion and an interactive exercise in the identification and interpretation of numismatic artifacts provided by symposium participants and audience (a mini Numismatic Roadshow).

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-10 of 10)

  • Documents (10)


  • A Coin In The Mast Step (2017)
    Citation DOCUMENT [ID: 435344] Robert S Neyland.

    Placement of coins in the mast steps of ships  has continued from the Roman 2nd century BC through the medieval, renaissance, and historic periods into the present day.  The tradition is still entrenched in modern shipbuilding and even current Navy ships have a coin placed under the mast or tallest structure on the ship. The practice of putting a coin in the mast step has had continuity in western shipbuilding for over 2,000 years, although it is possible the cultural reasons for the practice...

  • Coinage at French & Indian War Sites in Northern New York State (2017)
    Citation DOCUMENT [ID: 435342] David R. Starbuck.

    Archaeology conducted by SUNY Adirondack and Plymouth State University at British military sites located along the Hudson River and in Lake George, New York, has recovered much colonial coinage that will be summarized here. Twenty-five years of excavations at British military encampments dating to the French & Indian War in northern New York State has revealed that mid-18th-century commerce was conducted with a combination of British and Spanish currency--a mixture of low-denomination English...

  • Coins In The Fountain: Finding Meaning in Everyday Votive Offerings (2017)
    Citation DOCUMENT [ID: 435350] Marjorie Akin.

    There is a very long history of people throwing valuable objects into bodies of water or fountains, and the practice has long been widespread.  Today children ask for, and are often given, small-denomination coins to "make a wish" by tossing them into a fountain or pool.   What are the origins and history of this behavior, and what beliefs and social motivations lie behind it, from ancient times to today?  The social and physical formation processes that affect these "votive offerings" will be...

  • The Coins of Deadwood, S. Dakota (2017)
    Citation DOCUMENT [ID: 435351] Kevin D. Akin.

    Coins can be very helpful in interpreting the physical remains found at historic-period sites. Their connections with economics, politics, cultural practices, and recreational activities can clarify obscure points that never made it into the historical record. Deadwood, South Dakota only dates back 142 years, but it is packed with history, and the people of Deadwood have become leaders in using their history to support their town. The coins from the old Deadwood Chinatown tell some particularly...

  • The Coins of Fort Atkinson: a study in numismatic archaeology. (2017)
    Citation DOCUMENT [ID: 435349] Lawrence Lee.

    Unlike much of the rest of the world, numismatics as practiced in America has little recognized scholastic standing. The lack of perceived value for numismatics is readily apparent in the archeology of the Great Plains, where the indigenous economy was not based on bullion value, where coin hoards like those found on the eastern seaboard are basically non-existent and numismatic objects are considered to ‘historic’ and thus intrusive to the prehistory of the region. In such a setting, numismatic...

  • The Coins of Kam Wah Chung, John Day, Oregon: Persistence of Chinese Culture Reflected Through Non-Monetary Uses of Chinese coins. (2017)
    Citation DOCUMENT [ID: 435343] James C. Bard.

      Kam Wah Chung was a frontier Chinese medical clinic, general store, community center and residence of two Chinese immigrants, Ing "Doc" Hay and Lung On, located in the frontier eastern Oregon town of John Day, Oregon. "Doc" Hay practiced traditional herbal medicine and Long On was proprietor of their general store. Left untouched for decades, Kam Wah Chung State Heritage Site is a remarkable time capsule capturing the life and times of the late 19th and early 20th century Chinese community....

  • Gaming in The Dalles: The Presence of Asian Coins and Glass Gaming Pieces in a Small Town Laundry (2017)
    Citation DOCUMENT [ID: 435346] Maryanne F. Maddoux.

    The partners/owners of the Wing Hong Tai/Hai Company were innovative entrepreneurs who utilized multiple strategies to circumvent economic and social pressures during the Chinese Exclusion Act era.  The ‘Chinese Laundry’ site (35WS453) located in the Dalles, Oregon was occupied by the company beginning in the 1880s until the mid-1920s.  The site is situated along the Columbia River which is an important hub for travel and trade in the western United States.  The partners of the Wing Hong Tai/Hai...

  • Introduction to Numismatic Archaeology of North America. (2017)
    Citation DOCUMENT [ID: 435347] James C. Bard. Mark Warner.

    An introduction to the session highlight the array of scholarship on numismatics and an exploration of the significance of mumismatics to the field of historical archaeology.

  • The Real Value of an 1853 Dollar: A Foundation Rite Date Coin from the Levi Jordan Plantation House in Brazoria County, Texas (2017)
    Citation DOCUMENT [ID: 435348] Douglas Boyd.

    The Levi Jordan plantation house in Brazoria County, Texas, is a two-story, antebellum house made of cut lumber on a pier-and-beam foundation. It is currently a state historical park run by the Texas Historical Commission. The house underwent a full structural restoration between 2010 and 2012. It was raised above ground on steel beams and cribs to allow for repairs to the fireplace and wall foundations. Prewitt and Associates, Inc. archeologists investigated the original brick chimney bases and...

  • The World in his Pocket: the diverse coins used in the California Gold Rush (2017)
    Citation DOCUMENT [ID: 435345] Glenn J. Farris.

    During the California Gold Rush, hopeful Argonauts from all over the world descended on California, bringing whatever coinage they had with them. Merchants of the time were adept at accommodating the new arrivals. Whereas the silver reales of Spanish America had long been a mainstay of the economy on the East Coast of America, now many other forms of coinage made their appearance. Silver and gold were the accepted forms of currency because with the runaway inflation copper coins were of...

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America