On May 7th, 2022 Maria Radnoti-Alföldi peacefully passed away at home in Frankfurt, just short of her 96th birthday. Born in Budapest in 1926 as only child of the medical doctor Géza Alföldi and his wife Olga, she finished grammar school in 1944 and went on to study archaeology at the Petrus-Pázmány-University (today Eötvös Loránd University) in that same study. There she was a pupil and research assistant of the renowned ancient historian and numismatist Andreas Alföldi. Already as a graduate student she started publishing her first numismatic papers. After receiving her PhD in 1949 Maria Alföldi started working at the National Museum of Hungary in Budapest and became a regular special lecturer at her Alma Mater in 1950. After the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 and the following developments in the spring of 1957 she – together with her husband, the archaeologist Aladár Radnóti (1913–1972) – had to flee the communist country. After a short stay in Vienna with a scholarship of the Rockefeller Foundation, they build up a new life in Munich, but their three children had to stay behind and could only be reunited with their parents in 1962.
In Munich Maria R.-Alföldi was employed by the recently started research project ´Fundmünzen der Römischen Zeit in Deutschland’ (FMRD), which would become a lifelong dedication. At the same time, she continued her research on late Roman coin production, resulting in her Habilitationsschrift ´Die Constantinische Goldprägung´ at Munich (published in 1963), which would become a work of reference for following generations of scholars. In 1962 she moved to Frankfurt am Main, her home for the next sixty years, where her husband had been appointed professor for History and Culture of the Roman Provinces and Auxiliary Sciences (´Hilfswissenschaften´). In Frankfurt she started her decades-spanning project on the registration of the coin finds from Trier. After the premature death of Aladár Radnoti in 1972 she succeeded him as professor and successively built the Frankfurt Institute up to become a major centre for numismatic research and teaching with international renown. Retirement in 1991 only accelerated her research activities and until a couple of months before her death, she was still working on manuscripts for publication.
Her research interests were the coinage of the late Roman Empire, coinage as a medium of self representation and the registration and interpretation of coin finds. Her name will be forever linked to that enormous endeavour: FMRD, which she led from 1973 and turned it into a project of the Academy of Sciences and Literature Mainz in 1986. Many European countries were inspired by this project and started similar projects, none matching the by now 45 volumes published under her auspices. Equally successful was the accompanying series Studien zu Fundmünzen der Antike, which was initiated by her. In 1990, she followed in Theodor Mommsen´s footsteps and became the scientific director of the project ´Griechisches Münzwerk´, which she guided into the digital age.
Her research and her services to the academic community brought her international honours. To name but a few: honorary member of the Austrian Numismatic Society, the Hungarian Numismatic Society, the Société Française de Numismatique, Commission Internationale de Numismatique and Archer M. Huntingdon Medal-holder awarded by the American Numismatic Society, holder of the L. Réthy Medal for innovate numismatic research of the Hungarian Numismatic Society, and holder of the medal of the Royal Numismatic Society. Among many other further awards she was decorated with the Verdienstkreuz am Bande of the Federal Republic of Germany in 1992. The international numismatic community was her home and she spoke at least six languages fluently (including Latin).
During her long career, she published fourteen monographs and more than 150 articles, which all stand out for their clear and concise style. Particularly worth mentioning are, besides her work on Constantininan gold production mentioned above, her ´Antike Numismatik´ (1978), compulsory reading for generations of students, and her influential ´Bild und Bildersprache der römischen Kaiser´ (1999).
By her tireless insistence on studying coins in their historical context, Maria R.-Alföldi made a lasting impact on numismatic research in Germany and beyond. We mourn the loss of a champion of the numismatic cause, a charismatic and impressive person and, above all, a beloved friend.
Frank Berger (Frankfurt am Main)
Fleur Kemmers (Frankfurt am Main)
Ulrike Peter (Berlin)