Summer School 2023

Coins and more. Travelling Objects in Early Globalisation

Coin Cabinet, Forschungsbibliothek Gotha

Organized by the Gotha Research Centre in cooperation with the Research Library Gotha and the Foundation Schloss Friedenstein Gotha; funded by the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach Foundation

Gotha Research Centre, Schloßberg 2

August 28 to September 1, 2023

Since the 16th century at the latest, the continents of the earth have been connected by global trade routes and economic flows; objects circulate across the globe. These are not only goods like metal, spices or weapons, but also small, mobile things like coins, cameos or gemstones: contemporary coins from China, India or Arabia, but also excavated coins from the past of Rome or Greece.

How were these objects handled in the early modern period, what effect did their foreignness have? The summer school aims at three groups of interested parties: Firstly, those who are interested in globalisation in the early modern period, especially the circulation of objects and ideas; secondly, those who are interested in coins and other particularly mobile objects; and thirdly, those who devote their attention to the practices of cataloguing and listing, the "paper technology". This means that we must understand objects in their context, never in isolation: with their supply chains, their object biographies (which, in the case of coins, for example, must be explored in a different way than in the case of cameos ), the human actors who handled them, with the decipherments of the symbols and writings cut into precious stones or imprinted on the coins, and finally the sorting into cabinets of curiosities, coin cabinets and object catalogues. What irritations did the foreign coinage cause in the established European numismatics of the time? What information about distant worlds could precious cameos  provide? How did merchants arrive at their knowledge of the various currencies and monetary values?

The Gotha Research Centre of the University of Erfurt, which is organising the summer school, in cooperation with the museums and the research library at Friedenstein Castle, has for years been intensively involved in researching collection histories, the global origins and biographies of objects and associated "ideas" as well as the "making" of knowledge and the techniques of knowledge production (cf. the research profile). The Gotha Research Library houses a large number of handwritten coin catalogues from the early modern period and a wealth of old coin literature, the Foundation Schloss Friedenstein a collection of 190,000 coins, and the Gotha State Archives a large number of inventories and letters. Enough material, then, to test the connection between the disciplines of numismatics, economic history and philology, of material cultural research and the history of knowledge, using specific samples and with the active involvement of all participants.

The one-week seminar is aimed at advanced students working on their Master's thesis, doctoral and post-doctoral students working in these fields of research and wishing to deepen their interest, as well as employees of museums and similar institutions working on the above-mentioned topics. In addition to lectures by recognised experts (e. g. by, Lisa Hellman, Lund; Dirk Jacob Jansen, Maastricht; Philipp Schwinghammer, Leipzig; Kim Siebenhüner, Jena; Paola von Wyss-Giacosa, Zürich) there will be the opportunity for joint discussion of sources and independent research in the Gotha archives and collections. There will also be guided tours through the extensive holdings of the Research Library and the Foundation Schloss Friedenstein Gotha.

Participants receive free accommodation and reimbursement of travel expenses (within certain limits).

The application consists of a cover letter explaining the motivation for participation, an academic curriculum vitae and – for doctoral students – a letter of recommendation from an academic teacher. Please also attach the signed consent to the processing of personal data. The deadline for submitting your application – by email only – is July 2, 2023. Please summarize your application documents in one PDF file (max. 5 MB) and send it to For encrypted e-mail communication please read the information on data protection below. The cover letter should state why participation is desired and what benefits are hoped for in current or future academic work. Applicants will be informed of the selection by July 21, 2023. The number of participants is limited to a maximum of 15. There is no legal right to participate. We expect participation throughout the Summer School (midday Monday 28 August to Friday evening 1 September 2023).

Concept by and under the direction of
Prof. Dr Martin Mulsow
Director of the Gotha Research Centre

Kristina Petri M. A.
Forschungszentrum Gotha der Universität Erfurt
Schlossberg 2
99867 Gotha
Phone: +49 (0)361 737 1712

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Funded by the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach-Stiftung