Numism > Reading For the Advanced Collector

Amenemhet III

(1/2) > >>

Dear friends of ancient coins!

Pharaohs on ancient coins are very rare. This is one of these rare coins. It is a Nome coin, which shows the Pharaoh Amenemhet III on the reverse.

The Coin:
Egypt, Alexandria, Arsinoites Nome, Hadrian, 117-138
AE - Obol, 19.19mm, 4.52g, 0°
struck 126/127 (year 11)
Bust, left shoulder slightly draped, laureate, n.r.
Rev.: APCI - L IA (year 11)
Head of Pharaoh Amenemhet III, with Nemes-Headscarf and Uraeus snake, r..
Ref.: Milne1229; Dattari 6210; Emmet 1221; Geissen 3381/3382; BMC 72/73; SNG Copenhagen 1083/1084
rare (as all Nome coins!), good F

Nome Coinage
For thousands of years, Ancient Egypt was divided into administrative districts that had developed from Neolithic principalities. In Egyptian they were called spt (sepat). The name Nome comes from Greek νομος (nomos), which was used to designate these districts. The districts were often divided, merged into others or were newly founded. In Greco-Roman times there were 22 Upper Egyptian and 20 Lower Egyptian districts. Each of them was headed by a nomarch (a Strategos in Greek times), who was relatively independent of the ruling pharaoh. Almost every region had a local deity with its own mythology. This deity was the tutelary god of the nome and was particularly revered. Important are the Nome coinages, which were all struck in Alexandria, because they show representations of these local deities and thus give us an insight into the local religiousness. A list of all districts was found in the "white chapel" of Sesostris I. in Karnak.

The Arsinoites Nome
Our coin comes from the Nome Arsinoites. It is located at the confluence of a Nile arm and the ancient Fayum lake. This place was called Crocodeilonpolis by the Greeks because of the adoration of the crocodile. The Fayum Basin lies west of the Nile southwest of Cairo. It was already known in ancient times (e.g. by Herodotus) and was an extensive swamp area in Predynastic times, until it was drained and made fertile by Sesostris III and his son Amenemhet III. Today it is the "vegetable garden" of Cairo. In 2006 over 2.5 million people lived there. The Arsinoites-Nome was added to the list a little later and was divided into the 4 sub-districts (Meris) of Herakleides, Themistos, Polemon and the capital Arsinoe. The capital was named after Arsinoe II. (316-370/360 B.C.), wife of Lysimachos and later, together with her brother Ptolemy II Philadelphus, ruler of Egypt. In Roman times this place was, along with Memphis and Alexandria, the place of jurisdiction of the governor. Numerous papyri in Greek, Coptic and Arabic script originate from here (Förschner).

Amenemhet III
His name means as much as "Amun is at the top". Amun was an ancient Egyptian god of wind and fertility which the Greeks equated with Zeus (not to be confused with Amon, the surname of Re!). On the coin Amenemhet III. is depicted with the royal insignia Nemes-headscarf and Uraeus-snake.

Amenemhet III, son of Sesostris III, was pharaoh of the 12th dynasty from about 1842-1795 BC with a very long reign. His father had made him co-regent and with him he ruled the first 20 years together. While his father was more active in foreign affairs with campaigns, Amenemhet III was responsible for domestic politics. One of his most important works was the drainage and cultivation of the Fayum Oasis. He built the Great Canal, which connected Lake Fayum with the Nile. His reign is regarded as the Golden Age of the Middle Kingdom. A local cult of this pharaoh was widespread in Fayum.

After the death of his son and successor Amenemhet IV his daughter Nofrusobek became the first woman ever to become pharaoh and thus a model for Hatshepsut.

He also went down in history as a great architect. On the rocky plateau of Dahshur, 26km south of Giza, which was used as a cemetery since the 3rd dynasty and on which the famous Snofru's pyramid stands, he had the so-called "Black Pyramid" built. It got its name from the black colour of the Nile mud bricks used. The pyramid has two entrances leading to numerous chambers, corridors and stairs, as well as several burial chambers. Amenemhet III followed King Djoser of the 3rd dynasty with this construction, because only his pyramid has such a complicated substructure. However, the pyramid has never been used as the tomb of the pharaoh. Shortly before the completion of the construction work, considerable building defects became apparent. The subsoil was unstable and the ceiling construction defective, so that the pyramid sagged. The pyramidion made of black granite, which covers and secures the building at the top, was found unused.

For this reason Amenemhet III had a 2nd pyramid built in Fayum near Hawara. It forms the center of the necropolis of Hawara. With 58m height it was the last big pyramid of its kind. Like the Djoser pyramid, it is located in a rectangular pyramid district with a courtyard and a temple of the dead, whose structure must have been unique. The Greek geographer Strabo (63-20 BC) described it and praised it as a wonder of the world. He compared the 1500 rooms with the labyrinth of Minos (Wikipedia)

After being a restricted military area for years, archaeological research is again being conducted there. Today, the German Archaeological Institute (Cairo Department), the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and Waseda University in Tokyo work there.

Also reported is an expedition that Amenemhet III undertook in the Sinai.

(1) Hristova-Hoeft-Jekov, The Coinage of Nicopols ad Istrum, 2020
(2) Angelo Geissen, Altes und Neues. Bemerkungen zu den Gau-Prägungen aus dem römischen Alexandria, XII. Congreso Internacional de Numismatica, Madrid, 2003
(3) Der Kleine Pauly, 1979
(4) Gisela Förschner, Die Münzen der römischen Kaiser in Alexandria, 1987
(6) Wikipedia

Dear Jochen,

Thank you for this write up
i have a question
RPC III 6295 

RPC III, 6296

RPC, describes the reverse as head of Premarres (Amenemhet III), bearded at chin, r., wearing nemes with uraeus.

what does Premarres mean ruler or priest?

my variants


Dear Eric!

Thank you for your question. Nice coins you have. Premarres was a name under which Amenemhet III was worshipped.

Here is an excerpt from Edda Bresciani & Antonio Giammarusti, MEDINET MADI, the town of Amenemhat III, in 20 SHEDET Issue No. 1 (2014):

In his beloved Fayum, in Ptolemaic and roman time, Amenemhat III was
worshipped as a god with the name of Porramanres, Pramarres or Premarres,
phonetically transcriptions of the Egyptian name Per-aa Nymaatre, i.e. Pharaoh
Nymaatre; the fundamental role of Narmouthis in the development and strengthening
of his cult is explicitly confirmed by Isidoros’s IV hymn, the last of the four hymns
composed in the 1st century BCE by the Hellenized Egyptian Isidoros; the four hymns
had been graved on the enjambments of the entrance to the vestibule of
Heracleodoros in the Ptolemaic temple of Medinet Madi.

Best regards

Thank you Jurgen,

He was quite a "God"

Fascinating post, Jochen. Thank you very much!


[0] Message Index

[#] Next page

Go to full version