Treasure hoard consisting of more than 15,000 coins (both gold and silver), gold jewellery, and silver tableware, mainly from the 4th century AD, found in 1992 at Hoxne (pronounced ‘Hoxon’), in Suffolk, and now in the British Museum, London. The latest datable coins in the hoard were minted in ...
William E. Metcalf
Large medal struck normally in commemoration of an event or as a reward of merit and used here to refer to Roman pieces; for Renaissance and later periods see
In the standard study of Roman medallions, J. M. C. Toynbee struggled to distinguish them from coins on the one hand and medals on the other, while admitting that medallions share features of each. She defined medallions as monetiform (coinlike) pieces that do not correspond completely to a denomination in regular use; they were ‘struck by the Emperor for special or solemn commemoration’ and were intended as ‘individual, personal gifts, any idea of their circulation as currency being either wholly absent or, at the most, quite secondary and subordinate’. This functional definition omits mention of the high level of artistry that characterizes the pieces and constitutes the internal evidence for their status as presentation pieces. For while medallions were produced at imperial mints using the same techniques as those employed for regular coinage, they uniformly display a higher level of artistry; their larger format invited more ambitious and original compositions even when they commemorated events otherwise noted in contemporary coinage....
In its most general sense, spolia (pl., from Lat. spolium: ‘plunder’) denotes all artifacts re-employed in secondary contexts, from building blocks reused in a wall to pagan gems mounted on a Christian reliquary. It is a matter of debate whether this broad application of the term is justified, or whether it should be restricted to the relatively small subset of reused objects that were taken or ‘stripped’ (like spoils) from their original context, rather than found, purchased, inherited or otherwise acquired by non-violent means. It is likewise debated when the use of spolia should be considered meaningful, if at all. Arnold Esch defined five possible motives for using spolia: convenience, profanation, Christianization, political legitimation and aesthetic attraction. Michael Greenhalgh has argued for reducing the motives to three (at least with regard to marble): pragmatism, aesthetics and ideology; while Finbarr Barry Flood cautioned against reductive interpretations generated by any taxonomy, insisting that reused objects are mutable in meaning and capable of multiple interpretations during their life cycle....