Do you know where the idiom "carry owls to Athens" comes from? Or what antique coins have in common with today's media? Answers can be found in the Numismatic Collection at the Bode Museum in Berlin.
Goose bumps as the director of the Numismatic Collection at the Bode Museum, Bernhard Weisser, slips on his white gloves and opens one of the countless drawers of the Numismatic Collection. Around half a million coins are archived there. And they all tell stories. "Coins are the only mass medium we know from antiquity and the Middle Ages," explains Weisser. "There was no newspaper or radio with which a ruler could send out his messages."
And then he takes a 1,200-year-old coin from the drawer: A denarius with a portrait of Charlemagne. "The coin shows the only portrait of Charlemagne that he himself authorized." Its message? The inscription on the denarius simply tells us that this is "Charlemagne, King of the Franks, Emperor since 800."
This and other secrets of ancient coins are revealed in a permanent exhibition in the Bode Museum, where more than 5,000 objects from the collection can be seen. The oldest dates back to the 7th century BC.
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