Please donate to ACE!!

Enter Amount:

ACE Lesson Plan Print E-mail
Article Index
ACE Lesson Plan
Page 2
Page 3
Page 4

Part Three: Identifying your Coins
(2 sessions probably needed—you may want to hold these in a computer lab!)

Background Reading for the Teacher:

ACE CD:  “Frequently Asked Questions”

"Attributing Your Roman Coin"

"One ACE Teacher's Guide for Teachers"

“Map of Rome’s Imperial Mints”

“Anatomy of a Coin" All Parts (these have wonderful diagrams—you may want to print these out for your


“Ancient Coin Identification Guide” (you may want to print several copies of these for students or have

students view them from the link at the ACE web site)

“Coin Imaging Tips (Scanners, Digital Cameras,”

Also explore the Attribution Project Help section on the ACE website for more tools.

----Teacher should also spend time looking at images on the ACE CD and the online attribution sites linked through the ACE website

---Teacher may also want to read more about the background of Roman coins as summarized on ACE CD, “John Ryan’s Talk on Ancient Coins,”  and “Mark Lehman’s ACE Lecture for NJCL Conference" Also  on the ACE Website, “Bookmarks and Links: Ancient Roman Coinage: Eight Hundred Years of Roman Coinage” by David R. Sear. (


----magnifying glasses

----students’ coins and “Coin Data Recording Sheets”

----Scott Uhrick's “Ancient Coin Identification Guide” (several copies to float around classroom--or access this from the ACE website in a computer lab because the images are better quality)

----ACE Handouts, “Anatomy of a Roman Coin" (several parts)

----ACE Handout “Roman Empire & Mint Map”

----one or more computers to run the ACE CD or to access on-line attribution resources, OR two days in a computer lab


This segment will introduce students to the various features of Roman coins, such as the inscriptions, portraits, reverse devices, mint marks, etc. Using the information they obtain from observing and recording these features, they will try to identify the emperor during whose rule their coin was issued, as well as the era and the city in which it was minted. This is another good session for photographing coins so that students can ask questions of ACE numismatists on the Yahoo discussion group.

1. Using the “Anatomy of a Roman Coin” pages, explain these features to the students. Other sources on the web have been listed at the site for more detailed inscription help.

2. After interpreting and recording the legends, the students should then be able to begin to identify the issuing Emperor, with the help of the “Ancient Coin Identification Guide,” coin images on the CD and website databases.

3. They should also try to identify the mint mark, if one is present, to determine where the coin was minted. If a Greek character is present, it indicates the workshop, for example “E” {Epsilon} SIS as a mintmark would indicate the Fifth workshop of the mint at Siscia (SIS). Greek characters were used for numbers in primarily Greek-speaking areas, P, S, T, Q, etc in Latin speaking areas.

4. If students cannot decipher enough of an inscription on the obverse for attribution, they can often identify the type of reverse of their coin. Illustrations on reverses are quite repetitive and stylized, and depend less on inscriptions for identification. Refer to the “Common Reverses – Anatomy of a Roman Coin III” handout.

We encourage students with questions to post pictures of their coins at the general ACEHelp online discussion group (available through the ACE website). There is a template (ACE CD and website) available for helping students describe their coins to the numismatists. Experienced numismatists and historians will be glad to share hints and tips to help the students pin-down the trickier attributions that may come up.