Trapezites: An Ancient Currency Conversion Website

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  • Trapezites: An Ancient Currency Conversion Website


  • Giuseppe Castellano


Trapezites is the fruit of Giuseppe Castellano's Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Engaged Scholar Initiative postdoctoral project. It is a currency conversion website that converts from one ancient currency to another, accompanied by information about purchasing power in antiquity. Coins are among the most widely distributed and most numerous elements of ancient material and visual culture in the Mediterranean world. Determining historical exchange rates and purchasing power is a notorious problem and requires the study of many different types of evidence. Users are able to rapidly access results that would otherwise require careful study of the literature. The nature of the evidence – literary, epigraphic, numismatic – is specified. Not only does Trapezites convert between currencies, but it also provides information on ancient purchasing power in order to contextualize the user’s experience and to give an additional sense of value and exchange in antiquity. This website can help the public understand ancient money and provide a serious research tool for archaeologists, numismatists, and Classicists. This project emerged from my dissertation on currency and cultural contact in Sicily and Tyrrhenian Italy, focusing on the Archaic to the Hellenistic/Republican period, so such data is heavily represented.