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Bronze coin of Cleopatra VII

British Museum

British Museum

Cleopatra VII (reigned 51-30 BC) was the last ruler of the Ptolemaic dynasty in Egypt, coming to the throne in 51 BC after the death of her father Ptolemy XII Auletes. She has become a legend thanks to her relationships with two prominent Romans, Julius Caesar and Mark Antony. A fascination with her story has been communicated in literature and art from Plutarch to Hollywood via Shakespeare.

However, for a queen of such lasting fame, portraits of Cleopatra are exceedingly rare. The only examples that date from her own lifetime, and thus with reasonable claim to authenticity, occur on her coinage. The obverse (front) of this bronze coin shows a portrait of the queen engraved in her lifetime at the mint of Alexandria. The reverse of this coin is also remarkable for the occurrence (rare on an ancient coin) of a denominational mark (a symbol of the coin's value). The Greek letter pi stands for 80 bronze drachmas.

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  • Title: Bronze coin of Cleopatra VII
  • Physical Dimensions: Weight: 16.370g
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Production place: Minted in Cyprus
  • Period/culture: Greek
  • Material: alloy
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Authority: Ruler Cleopatra VII

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