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Ancient history: Latin class scrubbing its way through centuries of grime

By Staff
Tracy B. Cieniewicz, Hartselle Enquirer
A group of Hartselle High School students is using elbow grease and research skills to unearth pieces of Roman history.
Beth Chittam's Latin II classes are currently participating in the Ancient Coins for Education (ACE) project to attribute and study 50 ancient Roman coins. Students have scrubbed, soaked and polished away more than 1,600 years of grime to be able to identify their coins and begin the research phase of the project.
"This is a very valuable project," Chittam explained. "This is our first year to work with ACE and the kids have lots of questions. I'm learning with them."
According to ACE, the coins come from a period of the Roman Empire when inflation was rampant and emperors resorted to mass production of small bronze coins. The coins were an affordable means for students to experience a direct connection to an ancient civilization.
"By identifying their coins, students are studying Roman grammar, culture and history," Chittam said. "This is such a good way to bring history to the students from somewhere other than a textbook."
Students use a resource CD and online discussion groups to aid in their research of the emperor, inscriptions and reverse images on their coins. All data is recorded and sent to ACE at the end of the project.
Sophomore Leah Craft was the first student in Chittam's class to identify her coin.
"It's the Falling Horseman and its date is 348 A.D.," Craft explained. "The inscription means 'A restoration of happy times.' I was excited to identify it."
ACE, a non-profit charitable organization, is supported by dealers and private numismatists who were concerned about the future of classical education. Last year, ACE distributed coins and study materials to more than 100 schools across the U.S., Canada and England.