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To celebrate Vikings Live, we have replaced our Roman alphabet with the runic alphabet used by the Vikings, the Scandinavian ‘Younger Futhark’. The ‘Younger Futhark’ has only 16 letters, so we have used some of the runic letters more than once or combined two runes for one Roman letter.

For an excellent introduction to runes, we recommend Martin Findell’s book published by British Museum Press.

More information about how we have ‘runified’ this site


Money in Africa

the past and present
of a continent

Project leader

Supported by

The Leverhulme Trust

Arts and Humanities Research Council

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About the project

In addition to the research being carried out as part of this project, and the resulting publications, we are organising conferences and workshops, as well as developing exhibitions and educational projects.


Wealth of Africa: 4,000 years of money and trade (2005)

This exhibition marked the beginning of the Money in Africa project. It examined 12 case studies dating from ancient Egypt to the present day. Research conducted as part of the exhibition provided ideas for the initial areas on which the wider research project would focus.

More information about Wealth of Africa 

20 cedis coin with a cowrie shell, Ghana, 1991
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    Two rand coin, South Africa, 2004

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    20 cedis coin with a cowrie shell, Ghana, 1991

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    Cowrie money
    Issued in West Africa, Bambara, about 1796


Two rand coin, South Africa, 2004

Inhuman Traffic: the business of the slave trade (2007)

This temporary display looked at how the slave trade functioned and at how it was ended. Some of the objects in the display showcased new research into the provenance of objects in the Museum collection, carried out as part of the Money in Africa project. For example, four cowrie shells which have been in the collection for almost 200 years, but which we now know were given by Mansong Diara, ruler of the slave-trading empire of Bambara, to Scottish explorer Mungo Park.

More information about Inhuman Traffic 

Impressions of Africa: money, medals and stamps (2010)

In 2010 the world’s attention focussed on Africa, as 17 countries celebrated the 50th anniversary of independence from colonial rule. This small display looked at the images of Africa presented on the coins, banknotes, medals, stamps and seals made for the continent during the past 100 years.

These miniature art works reflect changing national identities, and celebrate the cultures and heritage of Africa and its people.

More information about Impressions of Africa 




M. Bolt, C. Eagleton, and L. Gardner, Money in Africa: New Historical and Anthropological Approaches, in The British Museum and the Future of UK Numismatics, B. Cook (ed) (British Museum Press, 2011) 

An essay in the publication of the proceedings of a conference held to mark the 150th anniversary of the British Museum's Department of Coins and Medals in 2011.

More information about this publication 

C. Eagleton, H. Fuller and J. Perkins (eds), Money in Africa (British Museum Research Publication, )

Featuring 12 papers from the Money in Africa conference held at the British Museum in March 2007, this volume brings together an interdisciplinary group of scholars to consider the role money and trade plays in our understanding of African history. Ranging from the tenth century AD to the present day, the chapters cover the pre-colonial and colonial currencies of Africa, including copper, cowrie shells, beads, manillas and gin; and coins, counterfeiting, banking and the symbolism of money in modern Africa.

Read the Money in Africa publication 

A. Dowler and E. R. Galvin (eds), Money, Trade and Trade Routes in Pre-Islamic North Africa (British Museum Research Publication)

Historians, archaeologists and numismatists consider the connections between settlements in North Africa throughout the pre-Islamic period. This publication focuses specifically on central and western North Africa, in particular trade in the Garamantes region of the Sahara. The papers are revised versions of those presented at the 2008 Money, trade and trade routes in pre-Islamic North Africa conference, held at the British Museum, an additional contribution presented at a 2009 workshop on trans-Saharan trade at the Institute of Archaeology, UCL.

More information about this publication 


Conferences and seminars


Money in Africa conference, British Museum, March 2007

This conference brought together some of the most important and exciting scholars currently working in this field, for three days of presentations and discussions, and thinking about the possibilities for future research in this area. The international and interdisciplinary conference brought together 20 researchers and academics from 10 counties, representing 18 institutions and 11 academic/research disciplines. 

Money in Africa British Museum Research Publication 

Money and Money Museums in Africa, at ICOMON conference
Utrecht, Netherlands, October 2008

This meeting took the form of a half-day session as part of the programme for the ICOMON conference in Utrecht. Bringing together members of the British Museum’s Money in Africa team with colleagues from the Uganda and Morocco, the discussions focussed on museum-based projects and challenges when dealing with this subject area.

Money, Trade and Trade Routes in Pre-Islamic North Africa Conference, British Museum, November 2008

This second conference, brought together an international group of numismatists, classicists, archaeologists and anthropologists over three days, to discuss money and trade in the region. Presentations looked at regional trade routes, as well as at individual case studies, and opened up some interesting new lines of discussion, leading to a follow-up meeting at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London.

Money and Money Museums in Africa, at the International Numismatic Congress, Glasgow, September 2009

This meeting took the form of a half-day session as part of the programme for the International Numismatic Congress in Glasgow. Bringing together members of the British Museum’s Money in Africa team with colleagues from France, Senegal and Ethiopia, the discussions focussed on the definitions of ‘currency’ and ‘money’ in an African context, and the future challenges and possibilities for research in this area.

Living with Hyperinflation and Dollarisation: Zimbabwe
British Museum, November 2009

This intensive one-day workshop brought together scholars working on the hyperinflation and dollarisation in Zimbabwe, to discuss their research, and future lines of enquiry. The Money in Africa project team is now looking into further funding to support this collaborative project in the future.