Lire ce billet en français : Les tessères romaines en plomb de la BnF
One of the most neglected artefacts from Classical Antiquity are the tokens (so-called ‘tesserae’) from the Greek and Roman/Greco-Roman world. Bronze, lead, and clay tokens were used in Athens during the Classical and Hellenistic periods, and are also found elsewhere throughout the Mediterranean from the Hellenistic age. During the Roman Imperial period, tokens (mainly lead) continued to be used across the Empire by different groups. Ancient tokens have recently been the subject of study by the Token Communities in the Ancient Mediterranean Project (funded by the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 678042).1
In Summer 2019, this project led us to study the major collection of ancient tokens kept at the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF). The recent digitization of these collections is an opportunity to present these objects and what they teach us about the ancient Romans.