Elon Heijmans is an archaeologist and historian, specialised in the ancient Mediterranean. After obtaining his PhD in Tel Aviv (2018), he was a postdoctoral researcher at Utrecht in the framework of Anchoring Innovation, the Gravitation Grant research agenda of OIKOS (the National Research School in Classical Studies in the Netherlands).
He is interested in the history and archaeology of the eastern Mediterranean, specifically the Levant and the Aegean, from the Late Bronze Age down to the classical period. Within that framework, his research has focused specifically on the emergence of money in antiquity. His book on the topic – The Origins of Money in the Iron Age Mediterranean World – deals with the use and significance of money before the introduction of coinage and is published with Cambridge University Press (2021). It brings together a wide range of material and textual sources from the both the Biblical and early Greek world to shed light on the early history of money.
In addition to his focus on economic history, he is also interested in early literacy and numeracy, colonialism and ancient art, and is involved in fieldwork at the ancient city of Halos in Thessaly, Greece.
For publications, see my Academia page.
The Origins of Money in the Iron Age Mediterranean World (Cambridge University Press 2021).
This book shows how money emerged and spread in the eastern Mediterranean, centuries before the invention of coinage. While the invention of coinage in Ancient Lydia around 630 BCE is widely regarded as one of the defining innovations of the ancient world, money itself was never invented. It gained critical weight in the Iron Age (ca. 1200 – 600 BCE) as a social and economic tool, most dominantly in the form of precious metal bullion. This book is the first study to comprehensively engage with the early history of money in the Iron Age Mediterranean, tracing its development in the Levant and the Aegean. Building on a detailed study of precious metal hoards, Elon D. Heymans deploys a wide range of sources, both textual and material, to rethink money's role and origins in the history of the eastern Mediterranean.
Colour versions of print images are available on the book's CUP website, under resources.
Elon D. Heymans and Marleen K. Termeer eds. Politics of Value: New Approaches to Early Money and the State. Panel 5.11. Archaeology and Economy in the Ancient World – Proceedings of the 19th International Congress of Classical Archaeology, Cologne/Bonn 2018 (Propylaeum 2020).
As one of the most enduring icons of economic life, money has been a common feature and central focus in complex societies from Antiquity to the present. It gained weight as a key feature of Mediterranean economies in the course of the first millennium BCE, mostly in the form of coinage. But money is more than just coin, and its significance is more pervasive than just to the strict sphere of “the economy”.
In the ancient Mediterranean, money and its rise to prominence have been predominantly associated with the state. But can money only emerge under state authority? This volume questions the assumed relation between the spread of early forms of money and the state and draws attention to different ways in which money as an innovation could be anchored and socially embedded.
Available in open access.
Dirk Brandherm, Elon Heymans and Daniela Hofmann eds. Gifts, Goods and Money: Comparing currency and circulation systems in past societies (Archaeopress 2018).
The papers gathered in this volume explore the economic and social roles of exchange systems in past societies from a variety of different perspectives. Based on a broad range of individual case studies, the authors tackle problems surrounding the identification of (pre-monetary) currencies in the archaeological record. These concern the part played by weight measurement systems in their development, the changing role of objects as they shift between different spheres of exchange, e.g. from gifts to commodities, as well as wider issues regarding the role of exchange networks as agents of social and economic change. Among the specific questions the papers address is what happens when new objects of value are introduced into a system, or when existing objects go out of use, as well as how exchange systems react to events such as crises or the emergence of new polities and social constellations. One theme that unites most of the papers is the tension between what is introduced from the outside and changes that are driven by social transformations within a given group.
Available in open access.