Homes of eBay 5: Roman Coin

I hope you’re still with me. This is the big one. In November 2014, eBay listed 289 Roman Coin sales. At the end of that month, there were 196893 listed on the PAS. EBay sells 0.15% of the PAS in a month and would take 54.5 years to sell an equivalent set of objects.

►UNCLEANED ANCIENT ROMAN COINS, GOOD QUALITY◄

►UNCLEANED ANCIENT ROMAN COINS, GOOD QUALITY◄

2 x Silver Roman Denarius uk Detector Finds

2 x Silver Roman Denarius uk Detector Finds

3x Large Roman coins (unresearched)

3x Large Roman coins (unresearched)

5X ROMAN BRONZE RADIATE COINS; WINCHESTER DETECTING FINDS

5X ROMAN BRONZE RADIATE COINS; WINCHESTER DETECTING FINDS

10 Ancient Roman coins + 4 oz. Mint State Restoration Coin Cleaner MSR 042

10 Ancient Roman coins + 4 oz. Mint State Restoration Coin Cleaner MSR 042

10 MIXED COINS INCLUDING TWO ROMAN COINS METAL DETECTING FINDS (263)

10 MIXED COINS INCLUDING TWO ROMAN COINS METAL DETECTING FINDS (263)

46 AS FOUND ROMAN COINS

46 AS FOUND ROMAN COINS

3714'Constantine The Great Roman copper silver-plated coin F

3714’Constantine The Great Roman copper silver-plated coin F

ANCIENT CELTIC BRONZE PROTO MONEY CURRENCY PRE COIN FORM RING

ANCIENT CELTIC BRONZE PROTO MONEY CURRENCY PRE COIN FORM RING

Ancient ROMAN ARTIFACTS coins brooch jewelry arrowhead ring old lot antique rare

Ancient ROMAN ARTIFACTS coins brooch jewelry arrowhead ring old lot antique rare

Ancient Roman Coin - Constantinople Commemorative - No Reserve

Ancient Roman Coin – Constantinople Commemorative – No Reserve

Authentic Ancient ROMAN COIN angel VALENS 364-378 AD wreath artifact old money

Authentic Ancient ROMAN COIN angel VALENS 364-378 AD wreath artifact old money

BULK-LOT OF 59 LATE ROMAN COINS 3RD - 4TH CENTURY AD UNCLEANED! 3 DAYS ONLY!

BULK-LOT OF 59 LATE ROMAN COINS 3RD – 4TH CENTURY AD UNCLEANED! 3 DAYS ONLY!

c85 AD British Found Emperor Domitian Roman Period Ar Silver Denarius Coin

c85 AD British Found Emperor Domitian Roman Period Ar Silver Denarius Coin

coins roman metal detecting finds

coins roman metal detecting finds

Collection of unresearched roman coins metal detecting find

Collection of unresearched roman coins metal detecting find

CONSTANTINE  THE  GREAT  ROMAN  BRONZE  COIN   COMMEMORATIVE  COINAGE

CONSTANTINE THE GREAT ROMAN BRONZE COIN COMMEMORATIVE COINAGE

Constantine 1st Commenorative Roman Coin

Constantine 1st Commenorative Roman Coin

DECORATED MEDIEVAL SPINDLE WHORL AND ROMAN COINS

DECORATED MEDIEVAL SPINDLE WHORL AND ROMAN COINS

Fibula Brooch Roman Great Art Colour Coins Roman Brooch

Fibula Brooch Roman Great Art Colour Coins Roman Brooch

Group of Metal Detecting Find Roman Medieval Tudor-Modern Buckle Badge Coins

Group of Metal Detecting Find Roman Medieval Tudor-Modern Buckle Badge Coins

Hammered silver coin roman medieval metal detecting finds

Hammered silver coin roman medieval metal detecting finds

Huge Lot Of 760 Roman Bronze Coins As Dug From Norfolk-Suffolk England 

Huge Lot Of 760 Roman Bronze Coins As Dug From Norfolk-Suffolk England

INTERESTING  METAL  DETECTOR  FOUND  COINS  AND  ARTIFACTS

INTERESTING METAL DETECTOR FOUND COINS AND ARTIFACTS

load of old coins inc silver 3 day sale D2

load of old coins inc silver 3 day sale D2

Lot  of Silver Coin - Metal Detecting  Finds

Lot of Silver Coin – Metal Detecting Finds

Lot of 8 coins time pirate (L4)

Lot of 8 coins time pirate (L4)

metal detecting finds 5 nice roman coins

metal detecting finds 5 nice roman coins

metal detecting finds 10xearly to late roman coins

metal detecting finds 10xearly to late roman coins

metal detecting finds A Group Of 20 Constantine Roman Coins

metal detecting finds A Group Of 20 Constantine Roman Coins

Metal Detecting Finds inc Roman Coins

Metal Detecting Finds inc Roman Coins

metal detecting finds roman coins grots

metal detecting finds roman coins grots

METAL DETECTING FINDS SILVER HAMMERED COIN LEAD SEAL ROMAN  MODERN ODD UNUSUAL

METAL DETECTING FINDS SILVER HAMMERED COIN LEAD SEAL ROMAN MODERN ODD UNUSUAL

Metal Detector Finds 37 Roman Coins

Metal Detector Finds 37 Roman Coins

mixed roman mediveal modern  metal items coins  40 items

mixed roman mediveal modern metal items coins 40 items

Rare silver Hadrian denarius coin 117-138 AD

Rare silver Hadrian denarius coin 117-138 AD

roman  silvers and bronze  coins metal detecting finds

roman silvers and bronze coins metal detecting finds

ROMAN AE3 BRONZE COIN OF VALENTINIAN 1 {364-375AD}

ROMAN AE3 BRONZE COIN OF VALENTINIAN 1 {364-375AD}

Roman Bronze Coin    Constantine I  AD 307 - 337  Altar

Roman Bronze Coin Constantine I AD 307 – 337 Altar

Roman Clay Oil Lamp & Coin

Roman Clay Oil Lamp & Coin

Roman Coin - Ae3   Size  -  18mm diameter  Brass Coloured (BAC1221)

Roman Coin – Ae3 Size – 18mm diameter Brass Coloured (BAC1221)

ROMAN COIN

ROMAN COIN

Roman coin metal detecting find

Roman coin metal detecting find

roman coin sestertius

roman coin sestertius

Roman Coin

Roman Coin

roman coins 3

roman coins 3

ROMAN COINS METAL DETECTING FIND

ROMAN COINS METAL DETECTING FIND

Roman coins

Roman coins

Roman Lead Coin-Detecting Find

Roman Lead Coin-Detecting Find

Roman medieval and later metal detecting finds inc coin of carausius

Roman medieval and later metal detecting finds inc coin of carausius

ROMAN UMBONATE BROOCH  PLUS SESTERTIUS COIN

ROMAN UMBONATE BROOCH PLUS SESTERTIUS COIN

SCARCE antoninian of AURELIANUS  CLEANED  VERY NICE COIN

SCARCE antoninian of AURELIANUS CLEANED VERY NICE COIN

silver roman coin

silver roman coin

Superb group metal detecting finds inc  Roman coins Medieval items

Superb group metal detecting finds inc Roman coins Medieval items

TOP-LOT 18 LATE ROMAN COINS HELENA GRATIANUS CONSTANS VALENS ETC 306-383AD

TOP-LOT 18 LATE ROMAN COINS HELENA GRATIANUS CONSTANS VALENS ETC 306-383AD

UNCLEANED  UNIDENTIFIED ROMAN COIN  DETECTOR FIND

UNCLEANED UNIDENTIFIED ROMAN COIN DETECTOR FIND

UNCLEANED ROMAN coin

UNCLEANED ROMAN coin

UNIDENTIFIED ROMAN COIN

UNIDENTIFIED ROMAN COIN

very rare MN ACILIUS GLABRIO AR DENARIUS silver roman coin

very rare MN ACILIUS GLABRIO AR DENARIUS silver roman coin

All map data ©Google

Can eBay be public archaeology?

This month of PA2015 will look at the ways in which relatively mundane objects move around and what that has to do with people. It has long been a contention of mine that archaeology and archaeologists have a particular perspective on material culture that enables them to locate, understand and describe active, contemporary material networks in a certain, distinctly useful way. Further, I think that understanding material networks with an initial focus on the object being moved can tell you about the relationships between people and other people, things and places that other more widely focused perspectives cannot. Lastly, I think that communicating this understanding to people can give them new ways of engaging in contemporary politics (which means a lot of different things).

Where is the public archaeology?

In this conception, there are two different public archaeologies. The first is found in the archaeologist developing these themes and methodologies, then working to create ways to communicate them to non-archaeologists. The second, both equally and differently important, is in non-archaeologists finding some use in approaching aspects of their lives in an archaeological way. These two public archaeologies meet in the middle, but do not have to operate together. One does not have to lead to the other in a direct fashion. People can take inspiration from archaeology in any way they want to and I see the potential to create another kind of archaeology that might be useful and to make it visible so it can be appropriated.

Making it visible

This month will split into two parts, the first focussing on eBay, the second on recycling. I’ll come to the recycling later in the month.

EBay has massive archaeological potential, both as a fluctuating repository of material culture, but also in what it might tell us about the relationship between people and objects. I’ll be chucking a few stats around over the next week, but let’s start with a few jaw-droppers.

  • Recently, the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) celebrated the recording of its one millionth artefact, an incredible achievement. EBay lists, at any given time, somewhere in the region of 112.3 million items.
  • Looking just to object types on both the PAS and eBay, eBay listings in any one month equate to approximately 2.4% of the PAS database.
  • It follows that in numbers alone – i.e. discounting qualitative variables, which I will come to  – eBay sells the entire PAS every 3.5 years.
  • With qualitative adjustment, taking into account the relative frequency of different artefact types on the PAS, it would take eBay about 18 years to sell an equivalent set of objects. That’s not long.

eBay

EBay as public archaeology

So, where can eBay and public archaeology meet? When I tell people about this project, they hear the word ‘eBay’, smile and shake their heads. EBay is, in my experience, treated by archaeologists as a whole, and as a negative phenomenon. It’s where people sell metal detecting finds, right? Well, yes. But it’s also a normal part of millions of people’s lives and one of the primary ways in which objects move nationally and internationally on a person-to-person basis. So, it can tell us a lot about how things move and who is involved in moving them, this in addition to the almost unimaginable rolling dataset of 112300000 objects.

Working with the data

I can go into this in more detail through comments if anyone is interested. Basically, some years ago, eBay got annoyed with people scraping their customer site and slowing it down; they took people to court over it. One of the ways they have addressed this, realising that people using scrapers to categorise data drives more business through the site, is that they replicate their entire database on a secondary site and allow you to set up tools to extract information. Basically, you can set any parameters you want and collect information within them straight into an Excel file.

So, with a lot of help from my brother-in law, Andy Venables (he did 100% of the IT set-up), I ran a scrape of eBay.co.uk for the whole of November 2014. I collected data on every listing during that month on six representative artefact types: Jetton; Clay Pipe, Musket Ball, Spindle Whorl, Roman Coin and Lamppost. That scrape recorded 828 entries, which reduced to 605 after removing re-listings and misidentifications. For one month, it’s a workable dataset. Any PAS figures I refer to were gathered at the end of this period too.

For your own amusement, here’s the data: eBay data November 2014 for PA2015

Next week, I will do some work with the data and investigate the potential for eBay to play a role in the development of public archaeology. Also though I want to address my failure to engage any eBay sellers in my research! I’ll need people’s help with that bit, it needs to be a conversation and I look forward to having it with you.

Before that, over the next week, I simply want to introduce you to the data and, by extension, to the idea that eBay isn’t merely that bad thing over there, it’s loads of different people doing the same thing for different reasons. I’ll get going the day after tomorrow.