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Research

The Münzkabinett not only serves as a museum and archive of coinage but also undertakes research in the area of numismatics and exonumia. As academic disciplines, both subjects are traditionally anchored in museums and are no longer explicitly taught in German universities.

The Münzkabinett at the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin is thus the largest institution dedicated to numismatics in Germany and is committed to preserving and advancing the subject as an important historical resource. In addition, it makes its holdings available for research (online-catalogue), publishes catalogues of its inventory and undertakes its own research based on its collections.

It organises lectures and courses at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, is involved in international research projects (such as 'Sylloge Nummorum Sassanidorum'; 'Sylloge Nummorum Parthicorum') and publishes two academic journals: 'Berliner Numismatische Forschungen' (since 1987, since 1991 Neue Folge) and 'Das Kabinett' (since 1994). 

Research projects at the Münzkabinett

As part of the project "Urban Development, Housing and Living Conditions in Ancient Priene", funded by the DFG (German Research Foundation) and in cooperation with the Archaeological Institute at Universität Frankfurt am Main (Prof. Dr. Wolf Rack), the Münzkabinett is currently analysing coins discovered in the latest excavations of the ancient city of Priene (west Turkey) – one of the most important sites for the research of Greek-Roman culture in the eastern Mediterranean region. The project aims to draw conclusions about the use of bronze currency and the chronology of coins during the mid-Hellenistic period in the Maeander valley.

Contact: Dr. Bernhard Weisser, Deputy Director, Münzkabinett

Further information: is available here. (German Only)

In a research project funded by the DFG (German Research Foundation), the Münzkabinett (led by Prof B. Kluge and Dr K. Dahmen) is working on an inventory of its coins from the Merovingian period (6th–8th century) together with the University of Paderborn’s Chair of Medieval History (Prof J. Jarnut) and the University of Regensburg’s Chair of Romance Linguistics (Prof M. Selig) and Chair of German Philology (Prof A. Greule).

Encompassing 500 coins, the Merovingian coin collection held by the Münzkabinett is one of the largest European collection of its kind, second only to the one in Paris. In addition to numismatic documentation in catalogue form, the numerous names (of rulers, makers and places) inscribed on these coins will be indexed and evaluated from the perspective of each academic field involved in the study.

The project aims to produce a joint publication that will present a thorough analysis of the political and administrative structure of the Frankish Empire and its elites, based on numismatic evidence, insights gleaned from name research, and historical studies.

Contact: Dr Karsten Dahmen, Research Associate, Münzkabinett

The coin collections of Paris (Biblothèque Nationale), Berlin (Staatliche Museen zu Berlin) and Vienna (Kunsthistorisches Museum) are working together to bring into focus their collections of Sasanian coins.

Around 7,000 of these coins are held in Paris, 2,500 in Berlin, and 1,400 in Vienna. They represent important – though not yet fully evaluated – historical sources on the culture of the Sasanian empire, which reigned from 224–561 CE with its centre in present-day Iran. At times it was the Roman Empire’s great adversary, before being defeated by advancing Arabs in the 7th century.

The following volumes of the work Sylloge Nummorum Sasanidarum (SNS), compiled in six volumes, have been published so far: Volume 1, which contains the coins of the empire’s founder Ardashir I (224–240 CE) and his successor Shapur I (240–272 CE) (authors: Michael Alram and Rika Gyselen), and Volume 3 (divided into two half-volumes), which contains extensive material from the period 309–531 CE, from Shapur II to Kawad I/2nd Reign. (Author: Nikolaus Schindel).

The series Sylloge Nummorum Sasanidarum is edited by Michael Alran and Rika Gyselen, and published by the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ISBN 3-7001-3224-7 and 3-7001-3314-6).