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Roman Provincial Coins from Egypt

From Augustus' conquest until Diocletian's monetary reforms, Egypt maintained a separate currency. Hoard evidence indicates that when crossing into Egypt all imperial coinage had to be exchanged for Egyptian and when leaving all Egyptian coinage had to be exchanged for imperial coinage. Coins are dated according to the Egyptian year which began on 29 August, or 30 August following a leap year. The Egyptian tetradrachm was officially valued at one denarius.


Gallienus, August 253 - September 268 A.D., Roman Provincial Egypt

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The symbol on this coin that looks like an L was an Egyptian symbol for year. It may have been derived from a hieroglyph. Iota was used as the Greek numeral 10.
RX85908. Billon tetradrachm, Geissen 2913, Dattari 5280, Milne 4079, BMC Alexandria 2226, Kampmann 90.62, Emmett 3804/10, VF, excellent portrait, minor encrustations, light marks, tiny edge cracks, slightly off center, attractive coin, weight 9.252 g, maximum diameter 22.5 mm, die axis 0o, Alexandria mint, 29 Aug 262 - 28 Aug 263 A.D.; obverse AVT K Π ΛIK ΓAΛΛIHNOC CEB, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse eagle standing left, head turned back right with wreath in beak, palm left, date LI (year 10) right; $90.00 (€76.50)
 


Hadrian, 11 August 117 - 10 July 138 A.D., Saite Nome, Roman Egypt

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Sais was the provincial capital of the Saite Nome. Herodotus wrote Sais is where the grave of Osiris was located. Plutarch said the shrine of Athena (Isis) in Sais carried the inscription "I am all that hath been, and is, and shall be; and my veil no mortal has hitherto raised." The Temple of Sais had a medical school (as did many Egyptian temples), which had many female students and apparently women faculty as well, mainly in gynecology and obstetrics. An inscription from the period survives at Sais, and reads, "I have come from the school of medicine at Heliopolis, and have studied at the woman's school at Sais, where the divine mothers have taught me how to cure diseases." Hector Berlioz' L'Enfance du Christ, has Sais as the setting for the youth of Jesus Christ until age 10, after his parents escape Herod the Great's massacre of male children.
RX85923. Bronze obol, Dattari 6370, Geissen 3427, Kampmann N45.13, SNG Cop 1145, SNG Milan 1202, BMC Alexandria 54, Emmett 1219/11, F, well centered, rough, corrosion, small edge splits, closed crack, weight 4.380 g, maximum diameter 19.5 mm, die axis 0o, Alexandria mint, 29 Aug 126 - 28 Aug 127 A.D.; obverse AVT KAI TPAI ADPIA CEB, laureate head right; reverse Athena standing slightly left, head left, wearing crested helmet, owl in right hand, spear in left hand, CAI-T (Saite nome) upward on left, L IA (year 11) downward on right; ex Tom Cederlind, with his $550 ticket; very rare; $400.00 (€340.00)
 


Probus, Summer 276 - September 282 A.D., Roman Provincial Egypt

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Eirene, or Irene (pronounced I-ree-nee; Greek for peace; the Roman equivalent was Pax), was the personification of peace and wealth, and of the spring season.
RX85925. Billon tetradrachm, Geissen 3139, Dattari 5530, Milne 4575, Curtis 1878, BMC Alexandria 2415, Emmett 3986/4, gVF, nice portrait, attractive brown tone, well centered on a slightly crowded flan, weight 7.954 g, maximum diameter 19.3 mm, die axis 0o, Alexandria mint, 29 Aug 279 - 28 Aug 280 A.D.; obverse A K M AVP ΠPOBOC CEB, laureate and cuirassed bust right; reverse Eirene standing half-left, olive branch in right hand, transverse scepter in left hand, date L ∆ (year 4) left; $90.00 (€76.50)
 


Aelius, Caesar, July or August 136 - 1 January 138 A.D., Roman Provincial Egypt

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In 136, Aelius was adopted by an aging and ailing Hadrian and made caesar, successor to the throne. He had no military experience but had served as a senator and had powerful political connections. He was known for luxurious taste, an extravagant lifestyle, but also poor health. He was never to become emperor, dying before Hadrian, on 1 January 138.
RX85959. Bronze hemidrachm, Geissen 1273, Dattari 2078, Milne 1546, Kampmann 34.5; RPC III 6234, SNG Cop 420, SNG Milan 1212, Emmett 1352 (R3), aF, toned bare metal, porous, minor edge flaking, edge crack, weight 8.833 g, maximum diameter 27.0 mm, die axis 0o, Alexandria mint, 29 Aug 137 - 1 Jan 138 A.D.; obverse Λ AIΛIOC KAICAP, bareheaded and draped bust right; reverse ∆HM EΞOYC YΠAT B (tribunicia potestate, consul 2nd time), Homonoia enthroned left, phiale in extended right hand, her left arm resting on throne's armrest, cornucopia at right side of throne, OMONOIA in exergue; scarce; $100.00 (€85.00)
 


Hadrian, 11 August 117 - 10 July 138 A.D., Roman Provincial Egypt

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Athena is the Greek goddess of wisdom, war, the arts, industry, justice, and skill. Her usual attribute is the owl and Nike is her frequent companion.
RX85961. Bronze drachm, Dattari 1632, Geissen 1009, Milne 1287, Kampmann 32.481, SNG Milan 1041, BMC Alexandria 689, Emmett 925/14, SNG Cop -, aVF, excellent portrait, attractive dark brown patina, spot of corrosion on reverse, edge cracks, weight 22.240 g, maximum diameter 35.8 mm, die axis 0o, Alexandria mint, 29 Aug 129 - 28 Aug 130 A.D.; obverse AVT KAI TPAI A∆PIA CEB, laureate, draped and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse Athena standing slightly left, head left, wearing crested helmet, Nike offering wreath and holding palm frond in Athena's extended right hand, her left hand on grounded shield, date LI - ∆ across field; $100.00 (€85.00)
 


Diocletian, 20 November 284 - 1 May 305 A.D., Roman Provincial Egypt

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Eirene, or Irene (Greek for peace; the Roman equivalent was Pax), was the personification of peace and wealth, and of the spring season. Most references describe the object in Eirene's right hand as an olive branch but Copenhagen says ears of corn. We believe it might also be either a torch or rhyton, both are objects often held by Eirene.
RX86242. Billon tetradrachm, Milne 4925, BMC Alexandria 2495, SNG Cop 996, Geissen 3248 var., Curtis 1979 var., SNG Milan 2190 var., Emmett 4045/6 (all var. date arrangement), VF, brown patina, well centered and struck obverse, reverse slightly off center, spots of corrosion, edge cracks, weight 6.983 g, maximum diameter 19.7 mm, die axis 0o, Alexandria mint, 29 Aug 289 - 28 Aug 290 A.D.; obverse A K Γ OYA ∆IOKΛHTIANOC CEB, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from the front; reverse Eirene standing slightly left, head left, olive branch in right hand, long transverse scepter in left hand, LS (year 6) left; $60.00 (€51.00)
 


Diocletian, 20 November 284 - 1 May 305 A.D., Roman Provincial Egypt

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On 1 April 286, Diocletian elevated his friend Maximian to co-emperor, giving him the title Augustus. Diocletian divided the empire in two, after economic and military problems. He gave Maximian control over the Western Roman Empire and appointed himself ruler of the Eastern Roman Empire (later known as the Byzantine Empire).
RX86252. Billon tetradrachm, Geissen 3233, Dattari 5758, Kampmann 119.31, Milne 4839, Curtis 2028, SNG Milan 2177, SNG Cop 985, BMC Alexandria 2525, Emmet 4082/3, VF, well centered, green patina, buff earthen highlighting, edge crack, weight 8.482 g, maximum diameter 21.8 mm, die axis 0o, Alexandria mint, 29 Aug 286 - 28 Aug 287 A.D.; obverse A K Γ OYA ∆IOKΛHTIANOC CEB, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, seen from behind; reverse ETOYC Γ (year 3), Tyche standing left, kalathos on head, rudder in right hand, cornucopia in left hand, star right; $60.00 (€51.00)
 


Vespasian, 1 July 69 - 24 June 79 A.D., Roman Provincial Egypt

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Victory or Nike is seen with wings in most statues and paintings, with one of the most famous being the Winged Victory of Samothrace. Most other winged deities in the Greek pantheon had shed their wings by Classical times. Nike is the goddess of strength, speed, and victory. Nike was a very close acquaintance of Athena and is thought to have stood in Athena's outstretched hand in the statue of Athena located in the Parthenon. Victory or Nike is also one of the most commonly portrayed figures on Greek and Roman coins.
RX86439. Billon tetradrachm, Geissen 276; Milne 393; BMC Alexandria p. 29, 236; Curtis 262; Emmett 205, RPC I 2412; Dattari 360 corr. (obv. leg.), VF, well centered, porous, edge cracks, weight 13.323 g, maximum diameter 26.0 mm, die axis 0o, Alexandria mint, 29 Aug 69 - 28 Aug 70 A.D.; obverse AYTOK KAIΣ ΣEBA OYEΣΠAΣIANOY, laureate head right, LB (year 2) before; reverse Victory flying left, filleted wreath in extended right hand, palm frond in left hand; from the Lucas Harsh Collection, ex Vaughn Rare Coin Gallery; $80.00 (€68.00)
 


Hadrian, 11 August 117 - 10 July 138 A.D., Roman Provincial Egypt

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The Lighthouse of Alexandria, also called the Pharos, built by the Ptolemaic Kingdom between 280 and 247 B.C., was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Between 393 and 450 feet (120 - 140 m) tall, it was one of the tallest man-made structures on Earth for many centuries. Damaged by three earthquakes between 956 and 1323, it then became an abandoned ruin. It was the third longest surviving ancient wonder (after the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus and the still extant Great Pyramid of Giza), until in 1480 the last of its remnant stones were used to build the Citadel of Qaitbay on the site. In 1994, French archaeologists discovered some remains of the lighthouse on the floor of Alexandria's Eastern Harbor.
RX86722. Bronze drachm, Dattari 1765, Milne 1373, SNG Cop 375, Kampmann 32.547, Emmett 1002/17, Geissen -, BMC Alexandria -, SNG Milan -, aF/aVF, well centered, corrosion but mostly on obverse, most of obverse legend obliterated, weight 22.681 g, maximum diameter 34.1 mm, die axis 0o, Alexandria mint, 29 Aug 132 - 28 Aug 133 A.D.; obverse AYT KAIC TPAI(AN) A∆PIA(NOC) CEB, laureate and draped bust right,; reverse Isis Pharia standing right, sistrum in extended right hand, holding a billowing sail with both hands and left foot, sailing toward the Pharos (lighthouse) of Alexandria, which is surmounted by a statue and two Tritons, each blowing a buccinum (sea shell trumpet); L IZ (year 17) above center; Emmett lists this highly desirable year 17 type as common but there are none on coin archives and it is missing from Cologne, London, and Milan; however, year 18 is common; $350.00 (€297.50)
 


Hadrian, 11 August 117 - 10 July 138 A.D., Roman Provincial Egypt

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A life-size, black basalt statue of the Apis Bull inscribed with a dedication of Hadrian was discovered in the underground vaults of the Serapeum. It is now in Room 6 of the Greco-Roman Museum in Alexandria. The Apis Bull statue appears on Alexandrian coins of Hadrian and other emperors. The custom of the Apis Bull had been reluctantly preserved by Augustus. He refused to “enter the presence of Apis . . . declaring that he was accustomed to worship gods, not cattle.” Dio, 51.16:5. “In spite of this declaration, two stelai from the Bucheum at Hermonthis in Upper Egypt show Augustus” dressed as a Pharaoh sacrificing to bovine deities. Richard Ashton, The City of Roman and Byzantine Egypt, p. 198. Ptolemy III built the Serapeum, the largest and most magnificent of the temples of Alexandria, containing a giant statue by Briaxis. Almost 400 years later, Hadrian rebuilt the temple, which may have been among the temples of Alexandria damaged in 117 AD during the Kitos War by the Jewish forces under Lukuas. “Eusebius of Caearea, “Historia Ecclesiastica,” books iv & v, written in the 4th century AD.” The Apis Bull depicted here may have been that bull, a replacement for an earlier similar statue.
RX86734. Bronze diobol, Geissen 1102, Dattari 2009, Milne 1436, SNG Cop 391, SNG Milan 1114, BMC Alexandria 811, Kampmann 32.610, Emmett 1114/18, F, well centered on a tight flan, some legend weak, scratches, edge cracks, weight 7.579 g, maximum diameter 23.4 mm, die axis 0o, Alexandria mint, 29 Aug 133 - 28 Aug 134 A.D.; obverse AVT KAIC TPAIAN - A∆PIANOC CEB, laureate and draped bust right; reverse Apis bull standing right on ground line, altar to right, L IH (year 18) above; scarce; $150.00 (€127.50)
 




  






REFERENCES

Blum, G. "Numismatique D?Antinoos" in JIAN 16. (Athens, 1914). pp. 33 - 70.
Burnett, A., M. Amandry, et al. Roman Provincial Coinage. (1992 - ).
Curtis, J.W. The Tetradrachms of Roman Egypt. (Chicago, 1957).
Dattari, G. Numi Augg. Alexandrini. (Cairo, 1901).
Emmett, K. Alexandrian Coins. (Lodi, WI, 2001).
Geissen, A. Katalog alexandrinischer Kaisermünzen, Köln. (Cologne, 1974-1983).
Kampmann, U. & T. Ganschow. Die Münzen der römischen Münzstätte Alexandria. (Regenstauf, 2008).
Milne, J. G. A Catalogue of the Alexandrian Coins in the Ashmolean Museum. (Oxford, 1933).
Pool, R. S. A Catalog of the Greek Coins in the British Museum, Alexandria. (London, 1892).
RPC Online - http://rpc.ashmus.ox.ac.uk/coins/
Savio, A. ed. Catalogo completo della collezione Dattari Numi Augg. Alexandrini. (Trieste, 2007).
Sear, D. Greek Imperial Coins and Their Values. (London, 1982).
Sear, D. Roman Coins and Their Values. (London, 1978 - ).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Denmark, The Royal Collection of Coins and Medals, Danish National Museum, Vol. 8: Egypt, North Africa, Spain - Gaul. (New Jersey, 1994).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, France, Cabinet des Médailles, Bibliothéque Nationale, Vol. 4: Alexandria I, Augustus - Trajan. (Zurich, 1998).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Great Britain XII, The Hunterian Museum, University of Glasgow, Part 2: Roman Provincial Coins: Cyprus-Egypt. (Oxford, 2008).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Italy, Milano XIII, Civiche Raccolte Numismatiche, Aegyptus (Egypt), Part 2: Octavianus Augustus - Lucius Verus. (Milan, 1991).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Italy, Milano XIII, Civiche Raccolte Numismatiche, Aegyptus (Egypt), Part 3. Commodus - Galerius Caesar. (Milan, 1992).

Catalog current as of Saturday, May 26, 2018.
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Roman Egypt