Sunday, June 03, 2007


Rudolf Münsterberg published the names of magistrates known to have struck Greek coins. His lists, originally published in 1911, 1912, 1914, and 1927 are still useful today.

I'm working to put his work online: Die Beamtennamen auf den griechischen Münzen (Official Names on Greek Coins).

Although the book is in German, no knowledge of that language is needed, because the book is just lists. For every Greek city whose coins bear the names or abbreviation of a magistrate, Münsterberg gives the magistrate's name and references a coin with this name. Münsterberg's indexes present all known names in alphabetical order.

The book was somewhat difficult to use. When used to identify an otherwise unknown coin, the user must look up the inscription in the index to get the page number for the cities with that name. Then, the name must be looked up for each city. Finally, the citations to actual matching coins must be looked up, often in a BMC volume, an Imhoof-Blumer book, or Mionnet.

Using Münsterberg to research the magistrates for a city wasn't much easier.

Of course, if the name doesn't turn up in the index it might appear in a later update, requiring the reader to check several places before giving up.

My site attempts to correct these problems. First, I have merged the updates with the original coins, something Münsterberg's printers couldn't afford to do. Second, as of today, I've converted the page number references to hyperlinks. When Münsterberg cites a BMC/Imhoof-Blumer/Mionnet, and Google has scanned the work, then my HTML conversion of Münsterberg can take you right there.

An actual database and query language could improve this, but would be time-consuming or expensive to implement. Using hyperlinks is good enough. Further efforts should be directed towards scanning the books lacking in Google rather than trying to improve the query interface.

It would also be useful to translate Münsterberg's remarks into English. If a reader wishes to take on that task I'll give you credits and a banner ad on the page.

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