Of real benefit not just to numismatists but to medievalists who deal with material culture, economy, politics and more, are the three catalogues of Byzantine and medieval coins (including those of Ostrogoths, Vandals and Lombards, plus later coins from Thessalonica, Trebizond and Nicaea) by Warwick W. Wroth (see my delicious links on the right hand side). They are all now well out of copyright and you can at least read them via the Internet Archive which leads you to Google Books. They are allegedly available for download but I cannot seem to achieve this. I wonder if there is some residual rights problem as facsimiles of these volumes have also recently been published? However, you can at least consult them here. The quality of the reproduction is at least as good as the originals and so perfectly suitable for research purposes:
I am currently writing up a paper based on two pieces of research which compares material culture from southern Italy with that of its central and eastern Mediterranean neighbours (e.g. Sicily, Greece, Egypt, North Africa). It is based on a conference paper I gave last July, at the Society for the Medieval Mediterranean conference at the University of Exeter, on the shared cultures of dress and textiles in the eleventh to tweflth century, and on a research paper I most recently gave on earrings in the Mediterranean, mainly dating to the seventh to eighth centuries, to the Islamic Art and Archaeology seminar at SOAS. Both papers problematised the idea of using the Mediterranean as an heuristic device (a framework for investigation) for studying material culture and both attempted to use basic anthropological techniques to question whether the elements of description and style we identify as being similar would have been recognised by those who made and wore these items. Do our typologies and philological designations do justice to the variety of experience and taste that objects held for their contemporaries?
Of particular inspiration has been the work of anthropologist Michael Herzfeld and the conceptual masterpiece, The Corrupting Sea by Peregrine Horden and Nicholas Purcell. Whether or not you agree with the latter’s approaches to Mediterranean history, there is no doubting its importance in making scholars question their own disciplinary boundaries. From a medieval southern Italian viewpoint, it has been quite liberating to centralise the region in this geo-historical space, rather than fight against its peripheral situation in the wider historiographies of medieval Europe, Byzantium and even the early Islamic world.
I am thinking of calling it ‘Material Girls in their Material Worlds: The Shared Cultures of Southern Italy and its Mediterranean Neighbours’. You’ll just have to read the paper when it is out, for more.