An iconological analysis of British gold staters c.80 BC - AD 45

  • Justin Claxton

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    The thesis examines c. 280 forms and motifs derived from a reconstruction of 93 gold stater types struck within 7 geographical regions across southeastern England, c. 80 BC - AD 45. The thesis highlights the emerging presence of an iconographic repertoire across southern Britain during the late pre-Roman Iron Age.

    Gold staters remain an important aspect of this phenomenon which is demonstrated to have manifested itself in other media, particularly metalwork. That this new art form supplemented, but did not supplant, existing types of non-representational La Tene style art is suggested by the presence of other types of object that continue to be decorated in this fashion throughout the first century AD.

    In the absence of any other type of established or coherent methodology Erwin Panofsky's (1993, 1972) method of iconographic analysis is adopted in order to provide a framework for the analysis. Whilst retention of Panofsky's three 'Acts of Interpretation' can be justified, a post-structuralist critique of Panofsky's method exposes fundamental theoretical shortcomings with regards the interpretation of meaning. In contrast to preceding interpretations of iconographical data, inferences are made upon the basis of lan Hodder's (1995, 1986) 'context of use' of other types of comparable forms and motifs within the archaeological record.

    The iconological content of staters is interpreted in terms of a transition, c. 20 BC - AD 10, from the expression of corporate or public ideals in a 'tribal periphery' to the manifestation of personal or private concerns in the southeastern 'core'. This divergence coincides with the emphasis placed upon the relative 'monetary' or 'political' roles performed by coinage within these regions. From the context of the forms or motifs illustrated on staters it is concluded that such images were appropriated by members of a minority social elite to legitimise and maintain their position at the apex of a social hierarchy.
    Date of AwardJun 1999
    Original languageEnglish


    • Iconography
    • coins
    • Britain: Southern
    • late pre-Roman Iron Age
    • Gold Staters
    • iconographic analysis

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