Albana Meta

Institute of Archaeology of Albania
LE STUDIUM Loire Valley
10 months

Research interests: Greek numismatics

Research Project

The coinage between Greeks and non-Greeks: the case of the Illyrians compared to the Thracians and the Celts

This research project focuses on the study of the relations between ancient Greeks and non-Greek people living at the border or in contact with the Greeks in the optics of their use of the coinage. It aims to study, in a comparative approach, the similarities and particularities in the adoption and usage of the coinage by the Illyrians, Thracians and Celts, as clear evidence of their Hellenization and identification with the Greek model. 

Working on the Illyrian coinages as well as on those of the Greek colonies of the Adriatic coast in south Illyria (Dyrrhachium and Apollonia) has permitted me to distinguish some original aspects of this region’s Hellenization. The Illyrians have many peculiarities and differences from the Greeks, clearly seen by their material culture; they also have a different language from their Greek neighbors and differently from them, they did not write their language of which we have no written traces so far. However, their early contacts with the Greeks, since prehistory, have put them in close contact with the latter culture and civilization. While the Illyrians have maintained many particular, original, local characteristics, they have meantime borrowed many aspects of the Greek civilization.

Because of the political past, nationalism has strongly affected the history and the especially the way of writing the history in the entire Balkan region. In Albania, for instance, still, nowadays there are no studies that examine to what extent the Illyrians were influenced by the Greek civilization and particularly in what aspects of life these influences are most evident. In this regard, I find it particularly interesting to bring a new contribution to the history of the Illyrians, through the study of the adoption and usage of the coinage in the region. The coinage was invented by the Greeks in the 7th century BC and widely used in the Greek world. Greek coins were used in Illyria since the late 6th century BC, but local coinages appeared only by the 4th century. They are certainly a sign of Hellenization as the coinage is clearly a Greek invention. Studies on the Thracians have also shown that they adopt the coinage according to their specific needs, not systematically. The Celts, which constitute the third non-Greek population that lived in Europe, also adopted the coinage. Through the study of the local civic coinages, the coinages in the name of local kings and the coinages of the Greek colonies in the respective regions, this study will show case by case the similarities and differences in the process of coin adoption and usage by these societies and by that, it will highlight the characteristics of their Hellenization. The period considered extends from the 5th to the 1st century BC.


After completing her initial university studies in Albania and England (1 year in Norwich), Mrs Albana Meta defended her thesis in 2013 in the field of Greek numismatics, at the University of Paris IV - Sorbonne under the supervision of O. Picard (Paris IV) and S. Gjongecaj (Tirana Archaeological Institute). His scientific work has been awarded two prizes: the "Georges Perrot" medal of the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres (Paris) and the Delepierre prize of the Association des Études grecques (Paris). Since 2013, Albana Meta is a research fellow at the Archaeological Institute of Tirana. She is the author of one published book (her thesis published in the collections of the French School of Athens) and 6 articles or book chapters, which together with the titles of her lectures and seminars, show that Albana Meta is fully integrated in the networks of international, especially European, research in the field of numismatics. Since 2021, she is co-director of the archaeological excavations at the site of Çuka e Ajtoit, with the Sapienza of Rome. She is also in charge of the publication of the coins from the Orikos excavation, conducted in collaboration with the University of Geneva.