Alain Bresson was named a 2018–19 Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellow.


Bresson, the Robert O. Anderson Distinguished Service Professor in Classics, History, and the College, is the author of The Making of the Ancient Greek Economy: Institutions, Markets, and Growth in the City-States (Princeton, 2015), which won the 2017 James Henry Breasted Prize from the American Historical Association. Bresson will use his Guggenheim prize, which he said came to him “as a wonderful surprise,” to work on a new book about the specific form taken by money in the ancient Greek world, with a central focus on the question of why the ancient Greeks “invented” coinage.

“The Greeks and the Lydians are famous for having invented a new means of payment, an instrument that we still have in our pockets in our daily life: coinage,” Bresson said. “But a frequent confusion is the idea that the Greeks invented money. Of course they did not. Their contribution was to give to money a political form. I have explored these questions in almost twenty articles which, hopefully, will constitute the foundation for the book I plan to write.”

This is a revised extract from a longer university news office story by Andrew Bauld.