Greek and Roman Coins of Tel Dor: A Study of Material Culture and Cultural Identity

Motta, Rosa Maria, Department of Classical Art and Archaeology, University of Virginia
Smith, Tyler Jo, Department of Art, University of Virginia
Dobbins, John, Department of Art, University of Virginia
Crawford, Jane, Department of Classics, University of Virginia
Frischer, Bernard, Department of Classics, University of Virginia

The story of the city and the people of the ancient Phoenician harbor town of Dor can be assembled from a variety of primary sources - historical, archaeological and art historical. Each primary source offers its own perspective. When, however, we attempt to understand the city in the Graeco-Roman period - a time when the city was minting its own money, the numismatic sources become some of the most important ones. In my study I argue that by focusing on the iconography and epigraphy of the coins minted at Dora, we can in fact acquire valuable insights into the evolution and outlook of the city and the society within its boundaries. For that purpose, the study perceives each coin type, not simply as an artifact, but a semeion, i.e., a sign of the cultural self-understanding of the city and a primary vehicle through which Dora constructed its meaning.

Considerations of cultural identities and cultural boundaries are a necessary starting point for the study of the continuous changes that transformed the Phoenician city of Dor into the Hellenistic and Graeco-Roman Dora. Since identity could not have been a simple matter of choice between Phoenician, Greek, or Roman, the study explores the culture of Dora as an aggregate of systems that developed from the contacts among the three populations. By analyzing the iconography and epigraphy on Dora's coins as records of the cultural and social trends that changed the city, we can therefore contribute to Dora's historical narrative. Just as well, the study of Dora's coin images is also relevant to the understanding of the role of visual media in the ancient world.

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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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