Coins and Baptism in Late Antiquity. Written Sources and Numismatic Evidence Reconsidered

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Coins were used in Roman times in widespread rituals as material mediators between people and gods. Some written sources describe these practices, but they do not provide much insight into the deeper reasons behind these uses of money. The aim of the paper is to analyse Canon 48 of the so-called ‘Council of Elvira’, dating sometime between the fourth and sixth centuries AD, which forbids the custom of placing coins in baptismal fonts by those being baptised. Coin finds in some early baptismal structures have confirmed the ritual, but the textual and material sources are not in accordance, and a satisfactory explanation is lacking. While the canon seems to suggest that the coins were perceived as a payment for the bishop, numismatic contexts suggest that coins were placed in the fonts for their symbolic value.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDivina Moneta. Coins in Religion and Ritual
EditorsN Myrberg Burström, G Tarnow Ingvardson
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Publication series



  • Coins and Baptism
  • Coins and ritual


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