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Gold octadrachm of Ptolemy II

British Museum

British Museum

The Ptolemaic kings of Egypt inherited vast wealth along with the kingdom of Egypt from Alexander the Great, who had conquered the country in 332 BC. Thanks to supplies of gold from Nubia within the kingdom itself, the Ptolemies were able to issue coinage in gold far more frequently than contemporary kings.

This issue was produced by the second Ptolemaic ruler, Ptolemy II Philadelphus (284-246 BC). He was given the epithet Philadelphus, which means 'sister (or brother)-loving' in Greek, due to his marriage, in Egyptian style, to his sister Arsinoe II.

The portraits on the obverse (front) of this coin are of Ptolemy I Soter (305-282 BC) and his queen Berenice I, the legend above them reads 'Theoi' ('gods'), indicating that Ptolemy II had deified his parents. The portraits on the reverse are of Ptolemy II Philadelphus and his queen and sister, Arsinoe II, with the inscription 'Philadelphoi' ('brother- and sister-loving').

The whole design of this coin, through both its portraits and legends serves to reinforce the impression of dynastic harmony within the royal family of Egypt.

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Details

  • Title: Gold octadrachm of Ptolemy II
  • Physical Dimensions: Weight: 27.73g; Diameter: 28.00mm
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Registration number: 1964,1303.2
  • Production place: Minted in Egypt
  • Period/culture: Greek
  • Material: gold
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Authority: Ruler Ptolemy II Philadelphos

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