Chinfrão (silver coin of Afonso V of Portugal)
Chinfrão (silver coin of Afonso V of Portugal) Photo: Tiago Gil Curado

How archaeology deals with coins

Coins and what not to do with them – in archaeology and at home

The Algarve Archaeological Association (AAA) will be presenting two lectures, in English, by Dr Aleksandar Brzic on Tuesday, February 7. The first lecture will be at 2.30pm at the Museu do Traje in São Brás; the second lecture will be at 6pm at the Convento de São José in Lagoa.

Dr Aleksandar Brzic will be talking about coins and how they are dealt with. Nearly all archaeological sites dating from c650BC to the modern period will yield some coins. Sometimes only a couple of lost pieces, but sometimes pots full of silver and gold in the shape of coin hoards.

How does archaeology deal with them? What do archaeologists do with these coins and what are they used for? In this lecture, we will be concerned with some of the practical questions in this process: can you just dig them up and take them home? What rules apply in Portugal, the UK and in other countries? Who do they belong to and why?

Coin weight
Coin weight
Photo: Tiago Gil Curado

In recent years, particularly fired up by the wars in the Middle East and the destiny of many cultural artefacts during these times, the discussion about such questions has sometimes reached dimensions and passions hitherto very foreign to the normal scientific dispute.

Aleksandar will be looking into the example of the UK’s Portable Antiquities Scheme, and contrasting laws in Portugal and Germany, and will let you draw your own conclusions.

The second part of the presentation will be concerned with coins that you may have at home. For example, coins that you have somewhere in a drawer, coins that you have inherited or coins that you would like to sell or donate to a museum but have no idea how to deal with them or what they are worth.

Fake Pedro II pierced coin photo credit Tiago Gil Curado
Fake Pedro II pierced coin
Photo: Tiago Gil Curado

Whilst not pretending to give exhaustive advice for every individual situation, Aleksandar will present some general principles and concrete recommendations for how to deal with such situations and prevent people from doing the wrong thing and regretting it later.

Dr Aleksandar Brzic was born in Novi Sad, Yugoslavia, and has lived in the Algarve since 2019. He retired to Portugal after a career in IT Management and now has the opportunity to dedicate his free time to the passion that he has had since he was a teenager: coins.

He holds a doctorate in Economic History and is active as an independent scholar in the field of Numismatics. He specialises in the history of gold coinage and has recently published about the use of gold coinage in jewellery in different countries of Europe.

Non-members are welcome to attend AAA lectures for a €5 admission fee, with all money raised by the AAA being used for archaeological grants and speakers.

For more information, contact [email protected], visit or Facebook ‘Algarve Archaeological Association’. Please check the website or Facebook page for any last-minute changes.