Dr Mairi Gkikaki (University of Warwick / The Open University of Cyprus), “Tokens in Late Classical and Hellenistic Athens”
Although, symbola, the Greek term for tokens, are first attested in the Archaic Period in the context of hospitality, in Athens of the mid-fifth century BC a remarkable transition may be observed from the private to the public sphere. And while the question on the public and/ or private uses of Athenian tokens, is hotly debated among scholars, research on the uses of the Athenian tokens may provide the appropriate framework for investigating the issue of authority. Who issued tokens in Athens and to whom were the tokens addressed? How is authority communicated on tokens and in what ways is that different than money? How does
the absence of any meaningful sign of authority align with the establishment of communities and the creation of collective identity? Our knowledge mainly derives from the impressive large repertory of figural devices. But the inscriptions the tokens carry and their find spots may enhance our understanding not only of these enigmatic objects but may also offer insights to Athenian ideology and politics of the Late Classical and Hellenistic periods.