Trapezites: An Ancient Currency Conversion Website Alpha Release!

Salvete omnes! Big news: my postdoctoral project for the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Engaged Scholar Initiative is finally live!

Behold, Trapezites!

Trapezites takes the form of a standard online currency converter, but in this case the conversion is from one ancient currency to another, accompanied by information about purchasing power in antiquity. Most anyone who has travelled internationally has been forced to exchange money. This was the reality in the ancient world as well, in which a vast range of individual entities minted coins on a variety of regional standards, so that currency exchange, conversion, and the establishment of equivalencies between monetary systems were crucial to social, political, and economic interaction. Weight standards were fundamental to the development, spread, and function of ancient money and carried a great deal of cultural significance to the peoples involved (and still do: why else would the United States staunchly hold on to ounces and pounds when the vast majority of the world uses a logical and uniform metric system?). I am working to bring this knowledge and its implications to a wider audience.

This website would not have been possible without the generous support and assistance of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Engaged Scholar Initiative (ESI), Mr. Lesser Gonzalez Alvarez, Dean Mia Carter and the staff of the UT College of Liberal Arts and ESI: A Texas Model, Dr. Ethan Gruber, The UT Department of Classics and especially Professor Adam T. Rabinowitz, and finally Ms. Estella Sun, Mr. Rodrigo Villareal, and Mr. Stacy Vlasits of the UT Liberal Arts Instructional Technology Services (LAITS). I would also like to thank Professor Cristina Carusi, Mr. Caolán Mac An Aircinn, Mr. Colin MacCormack, Professor Alexander Mourelatos, Professor Andrew Riggsby, Professor Mariah Wade, Mr. David Welch, and all the others who provided feedback and supported me in this project.

Upcoming online public lecture at UT Knoxville for the East Tennessee Society of the Archaeological Institute of America!

Greetings! I’d like to share the good news that I am giving a lecture on my dissertation work/monograph-in-progress on Tuesday, November 17th, at 5:30 EST. The lecture is open to the public via Zoom. Please find the relevant information below! I hope to see you there. Thanks to Professors Aleydis Van de Moortel and Stephen Collins-Elliott for their gracious invitation to speak.

2020 Distinguished Haines-Morris Lecture

Department of Classics

University of Tennessee, Knoxville

A Dialogue in Metal: Silver, Bronze, and Cross-Cultural Currencies in Italy and Sicily

Giuseppe Carlo Castellano II (UT Austin)

Tues., Nov. 17, 2020

5:30 pm EST

This online lecture is open to the public via Zoom.

Register at:

When the Greeks arrived in Sicily and Tyrrhenian Italy in the eighth century BC, during their period of explosive migration across the Mediterranean world, they found the native peoples using bronze objects by weight as a form of (pre-coinage) premonetary currency. These bronze objects, tools, and ingots were reckoned against a native Italic libral pound (Greek, litra). The Greeks in Sicily adopted this indigenous bronze standard, which had an enormous impact on the monetization of Italy and Sicily.

The monetization of Sicily and Italy was thus marked by a persistent indigenous influence and by a critical adoption of coinage by the native peoples. This project addresses cultural identity and interaction in areas of contact between Greeks and indigenous Sicilian and Italic peoples through the lens of monetary practice, tracing the native influence on coinage through close study of technical aspects. These include weight standards, technique of manufacture, and metallic preference. These technical aspects, as the products of unspoken or even unconscious cultural habits, are excellent quantitative indicators of cultural influence. My results indicate a much stronger indigenous influence on the monetization of ancient Sicily and Italy than previously recognized.

“Texas Treasure” Article Published in the Swedish Journal of Numismatics


Firstly, allow me to welcome you to my website. Thank you for taking the time to visit. With this inaugural post, I am honored to announce the republication of my article “Texas Treasure: The Renaissance of the Swenson Collection” in the Swedish Journal of Numismatics (Svensk Numismatisk Tidskrift, link for announcement). It will be published in three parts over the next three issues. This engaging article on the history (and future) of the Swenson collection of ancient coins at the University of Texas at Austin was originally published in the Spring 2018 issue of the American Numismatic Society Magazine (link here). It has wide-ranging appeal to students of US, Texas, and Swedish history, to those interested in the history and politics of immigration, and of course to numismatists, coin enthusiasts, and humanists at large. I hope that you will take the time to peruse it. Thank you again for your visit, and do please check back for more posts.