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CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series: The Ptolemies, Part II

Mike Markowitz - The Coinage of the Ptolemies, Part II

Mike Markowitz - The Coinage of the Ptolemies, Part II

CoinWeek Ancient Coin Collection  by Mike Markowitz …..

Ptolemy IV Philopator (222 – 204 BCE)

THE LONG DECLINE OF Ptolemaic Egypt started with the reign of Ptolemy IV, who was born about 245 BCE and got here to the throne on the dying of his father in 221. He’s recognized by the epithet “Philopator” (“Beloved of His Father”). Ptolemy IV married his sister Arsinoe III, who bore the longer term ruler Ptolemy V. Philopator’s chubby youthful portrait seems on magnificent gold octodrachms issued by his son. On the reverse, Ptolemy IV’s identify and epithet are inscribed across the dynasty’s emblematic eagle. An outstanding instance of this uncommon coin introduced $80,000 USD in a 2010 public sale[1].

Ptolemy IV Philopator. 225-205 BC. AV Oktadrachm (27.76 g, 12h). Alexandreia(?) mint. Commemorative issue struck under Ptolemy V, 204/3 BC. Diademed and draped bust right / ΠTOΛEMAIOY ΦIΛOΠATOPOΣ, eagle standing right on thunderbolt; B to right. Svoronos 1139 var. (monogram not B); EHC 321 var. (same); SNG Copenhagen -; BMC 33-4 var. (same)Ptolemy IV Philopator. 225-205 BC. AV Oktadrachm (27.76 g, 12h). Alexandreia(?) mint. Commemorative situation struck beneath Ptolemy V, 204/three BC. Diademed and draped bust proper / ΠTOΛEMAIOY ΦIΛOΠATOPOΣ, eagle standing proper on thunderbolt; B to proper. Svoronos 1139 var. (monogram not B); EHC 321 var. (similar); SNG Copenhagen -; BMC 33-Four var. (similar)

One of the crucial engaging Ptolemaic silver cash is Ptolemy IV’s tetradrachm bearing the pictures of Serapis and Isis. Struck at Alexandria and quite a few mints in Palestine and Syria, the difficulty celebrates Ptolemy’s victory over the Seleucid empire on the Battle of Raphia (close to Gaza on June 22, 217 BCE). Serapis was a composite Greco-Egyptian god, invented by Ptolemy I because the patron deity of Alexandria. Isis, an historic and beloved Egyptian goddess of motherhood, magic, and knowledge, is proven because the spouse of Serapis:

“…carrying a very specific ideological message directed more widely throughout the empire, Ptolemy IV was equating himself and his wife, Arsinoe with the divine sibling-spouses, Serapis and Isis (Landvatter, 87).”

Ptolemy IV Philopator. Silver Tetradrachm (14.27 g), Alexandria, ca. 217-215/0 BC. Jugate draped busts of Serapis and Isis right. rev. BAΣIΛEΩΣ ΠTOΛEMAIOY, eagle standing left, head right, on thunderbolt; over shoulder, filleted cornucopiae; between legs, ΔI. Svoronos 1124; SNG Copenhagen 197-8. Ptolemy IV Philopator. Silver Tetradrachm (14.27 g), Alexandria, ca. 217-215/zero BC. Jugate draped busts of Serapis and Isis proper. rev. BAΣIΛEΩΣ ΠTOΛEMAIOY, eagle standing left, head proper, on thunderbolt; over the shoulder, filleted cornucopiae; between legs, ΔI. Svoronos 1124; SNG Copenhagen 197-Eight.

On the coin, the divine couple wears tiny symbolic Egyptian crowns, though these are arduous to make out on most examples. The CoinArchives Professional public sale database data this sort 43 occasions, with realized costs starting from $600 to over $50,000(!)[2].

The massively plentiful bronze coinage of Ptolemy IV was issued in a minimum of six denominations: drachm (69 g), tetrobol (45 g), triobol (35 g), diobol (22 g), hemiobol (5 g) and dichalkon (2.5 g). Late in his reign, confronted with rising unrest in his empire, Ptolemy devalued the bronze coinage, and silver nearly disappeared from circulation. The tetrobol appears to have been the most typical sort, bearing a bearded obverse portrait of Zeus, and the Ptolemaic eagle on thunderbolt emblem on the reverse[3].

Ptolemy IV Philopator. 222-205/4 BC. Æ Tetrobol (38mm, 42.76 g, 11h). Alexandreia mint. Diademed head of Zeus-Ammon right / Eagle standing left, head right, on thunderbolt; ΣE between legs. Svoronos 1148; SNG Copenhagen 207. Ptolemy IV Philopator. 222-205/Four BC. Æ Tetrobol (38mm, 42.76 g, 11h). Alexandreia mint. Diademed head of Zeus-Ammon proper / Eagle standing left, head proper, on thunderbolt; ΣE between legs. Svoronos 1148; SNG Copenhagen 207.

Ptolemy IV died underneath unsure circumstances in 204. His dying was hid till courtroom officers murdered Arsinoe III in order that they might management his inheritor, who was simply 5 years previous.

Ptolemy V Epiphanes (204 – 180 BCE)

Ptolemy V, recognized by the epithet “Epiphanes” (“Manifestation of Divinity”) was formally topped as king on the age of 12 in 197 BCE. He’s well-known as a result of a royal decree in his identify, inscribed on a damaged stone slab, was by accident found by Napoleon’s troops digging a trench in 1799 close to the village of Rashid (“Rosetta”) at one of many mouths of the Nile. The fragmentary inscription, in Greek and two types of historic Egyptian, enabled students to start to decipher hieroglyphic writing.

Ptolemy V Epiphanes, 205 – 180 Octodrachm, uncertain mint circa 205-180, AV 27.75 g. Draped bust of Ptolemy V r., wearing radiate diadem and chlamys; spear over l. shoulder. Rev. ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ − ΠTOΛEMAIOY Radiate cornucopiae bound with royal diadem and surmounted by radiate crown; at either side, star. In lower l. field, monogram. Svoronos 1527 and pl. 41, 18 (these dies). Ptolemy V Epiphanes, 205 – 180 Octodrachm, unsure mint circa 205-180, AV 27.75 g. Draped bust of Ptolemy V r., sporting radiate diadem and chlamys; spear over l. shoulder. Rev. ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ − ΠTOΛEMAIOY Radiate cornucopiae sure with royal diadem and surmounted by radiate crown; at both aspect, star. In decrease l. area, monogram. Svoronos 1527 and pl. 41, 18 (these dies).

A youthful portrait of Ptolemy V seems on uncommon gold octodrachms[4]. He wears a spiky “radiate” crown and carries a spear over his shoulder. On the reverse, a symbolic cornucopia (“horn of plenty”) can also be ornamented with a radiate crown between two stars, which in all probability check with comets that have been noticed in 210 when he was born, an in 204 when he fell inheritor to the throne.

Ptolemy V additionally put his personal picture on silver tetradrachms[5], breaking with the dynastic custom of endlessly repeating this denomination with the standardized portrait of the founder, Ptolemy I. Throughout this reign, Syria, and Palestine have been misplaced to the Seleucids underneath Antiochus III, however within the peace settlement, Antiochus gave his daughter Cleopatra I in a diplomatic marriage to Ptolemy V.

Ptolemy V Epiphanes. 205-180 BC. AR Tetradrachm (14.01 g, 12h). Dora mint. Struck circa 205-200 BC. Diademed and draped bust of Ptolemy V proper / BAΣIΛEΩΣ ΠTOΛEMAIOY, Eagle standing proper on thunderbolt; ΔΩ to left. Svoronos 1262; O. Mørkholm, “Some coins of Ptolemy V from Palestine” in INJ 5 (1981), 9 (A3/P7 – this coin, illustrated); SNG Copenhagen Supp. 1294; BMC -; Noske -; EHC 320. Close to EF. Extraordinarily uncommon, solely 9 examples recorded by Mørkholm. Ex Syria, 1981 Hoard (CH VII, 90).Ptolemy V Epiphanes. 205-180 BC. AR Tetradrachm (14.01 g, 12h). Dora mint. Struck circa 205-200 BC. Diademed and draped bust of Ptolemy V proper / BAΣIΛEΩΣ ΠTOΛEMAIOY, Eagle standing proper on thunderbolt; ΔΩ to left. Svoronos 1262; O. Mørkholm, “Some coins of Ptolemy V from Palestine” in INJ 5 (1981), 9 (A3/P7 – this coin, illustrated); SNG Copenhagen Supp. 1294; BMC -; Noske -; EHC 320. Close to EF. Extraordinarily uncommon, solely 9 examples recorded by Mørkholm. Ex Syria, 1981 Hoard (CH VII, 90).

Recalling the previous glory of Alexander the Nice, bronze obols of Ptolemy V bear an idealized picture of the conqueror of India sporting the symbolic elephant head-dress. A superbly struck instance of this sort introduced $625 in a 2009 public sale. The reverse bears the emblematic eagle in a pose that might be acquainted to collectors of basic American cash; it’s an in depth match for the eagle on the reverse of our Strolling Liberty half greenback (1917 – 1947).

Ptolemy V Epiphanes. (205-180 BC). Bronze 22 mm (8.48 gm). Alexandria Head of Alexander right, wearing elephant headdress / ΠΤΟΛΕΜΑΙΟΥ ΒΑΣΙΛΕ?Σ, eagle with spread wings standing left on thunderbolt. Svoronos 1236, pl. xl, 13. SNG Copenhagen 249-252. Ptolemy V Epiphanes. (205-180 BC). Bronze 22 mm (Eight.48 gm). Alexandria Head of Alexander proper, sporting elephant headdress / ΠΤΟΛΕΜΑΙΟΥ ΒΑΣΙΛΕ?Σ, eagle with unfold wings standing left on thunderbolt. Svoronos 1236, pl. xl, 13. SNG Copenhagen 249-252.

Dedicated to searching and athletic competitions, Ptolemy V fell sufferer to palace intrigue in 180, in all probability poisoned on the age of 29. His widow took energy as regent for his or her son.

Ptolemy VI Philometor (180 – 145 BCE)

Like his father, Ptolemy VI got here to the throne as a toddler, simply 5 years previous. He’s recognized by the epithet “Philometor” (“Beloved of His Mother”). A particularly uncommon gold octadrachm bears portraits of the younger king and his mom. He strikingly resembles his father, with a pointed chin and lengthy, straight nostril. The portrait of the queen mom appears to be intentionally modeled after the picture of Arsinoe II, highly effective spouse, and sister of Ptolemy II. The solely instance of this coin that I might discover is within the British Musem (CM 1978,1021.1).

British Museum number 1978,1021.1 Octodrachm. Gold.(obverse) Bust of the young Ptolemy VI . (reverse) Bust of Cleopatra I wearing a 'stephane' (diadem) and veil. 180-176 BCE (circa) Weight: 27.84 grammes Die-axis: 12 o'clock Diameter: 28 millimetresBritish Museum quantity 1978,1021.1 Octodrachm. Gold. Obverse: Bust of the younger Ptolemy VI. Reverse: Bust of Cleopatra I sporting a ‘stephane’ (diadem) and veil. 180-176 BCE (circa) Weight: 27.84 grammes Die-axis: 12 o’clock Diameter: 28 millimetres.

A lot of the silver tetradrachms issued underneath Ptolemy VI bear the acquainted and more and more idealized portrait of Ptolemy I, with the eagle-on-thunderbolt reverse, often very crudely executed. A high-grade instance purchased over $1,500 in a current public sale[6].

Ptolemy VI married his sister, Cleopatra II, in 173 BCE. That they had a minimum of 4 youngsters.

“…one of the most attractive characters that ever reigned over Egypt. His was a most gentle and forgiving nature. Polybius says – and Polybius was in a position to know very well – that Ptolemy Philometor combined with his goodness and kindliness a presence of mind and high courage in perilous crisis and on the battlefield (Newell, 90).”

 Ptolemy VI Philometor. Silver Tetradrachm (13.81 g), first sole reign, 180-170 BC. Uncertain mint in Cyprus. Year 92 (171/0 BC). Diademed head of Ptolemy I right, wearing aegis. Reverse: ?TO?EMAIOY SOTHPOS, eagle standing left on thunderbolt (retrograde P)B monogram (date) to left. Svoronos 1208Ptolemy VI Philometor. Silver Tetradrachm (13.81 g), first sole reign, 180-170 BC. Unsure mint in Cyprus. Yr 92 (171/zero BC). Diademed head of Ptolemy I proper, sporting aegis. Reverse: ΠTOΛEMAIOY SOTHPOS, eagle standing left on thunderbolt (retrograde P)B monogram (date) to left. Svoronos 1208.

For a lot of his reign, he was engaged in complicated energy struggles together with his spouse and his brother, the longer term Ptolemy VIII. In 145 BCE, in a battle towards the Seleucids for management of Syria, he fell from his horse and fractured his cranium, dying a couple of days later. At the least that’s one model of the story; he might have been assassinated. His younger son, Ptolemy VII, reigned together with his mom as regent for a number of months till the kid was murdered by his uncle. The Ptolemaic Recreation of Thrones was performed by brutal guidelines.

Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II “Physcon” (145 – 116 BCE)

Ptolemy VIII was formally recognized by the epithet “Euergetes II” (“Benefactor”) however Greeks and Romans used the nickname Physcon (“Pot Belly”). His weak portrait appears as an example the impact of generations of inbreeding, and seems on a uncommon silver didrachm struck at Paphos in Cyprus[7].

PTOLEMY VIII.  Paphos, Cyprus. Didrachm. Draped Bust with radiate crown r. Rs: BA_I_E__ _TO_EMAIOY;  Eagle with lotus scepter l. on thuderbolt, Svoronos 1507PTOLEMY VIII. Paphos, Cyprus. Didrachm. Draped Bust with radiate crown r. Rs: BA_I_E__ _TO_EMAIOY; Eagle with lotus scepter l. on thunderbolt, Svoronos 1507

Ptolemy VIII was a stark distinction to his brother:

“His was a savage, vindictive, unscrupulous nature and he maintained his sway over Egypt for 30 odd years by banishments, confiscations of property, executions, and massacres … The solely recognized portrait that we possess of this monstrosity is to be discovered on some extraordinarily uncommon didrachms … The die cutter should certainly have seen the king in individual for he provides us a most convincing portrayal of Euergetes II with bloated cheeks, protruding eyes and flaring nostril… (Newell, 90)“

Even for a Ptolemy, this reign was… difficult. From 169 to 164 there was an uneasy joint reign together with his siblings Ptolemy VI and Cleopatra II. When Ptolemy VI did not assassinate him, quantity eight fled to Rome, the place he lived in exile operating up large money owed. When his brother died in 145, he returned to Egypt, married his sister and purged everybody who had ever offended him. He additionally married his personal daughter, Cleopatra III, who bore him a daughter, Tryphaena, who was married off to the Seleucid king Antiochus VIII in 124 BCE. To the good aid of Egyptians, Pot Stomach lastly died in 116 BCE, leaving the dominion to Cleopatra III and “whichever of her sons she preferred.”

Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II (Physcon). 145-116 BC. Æ (32mm, 27.37 g, 12h). Alexandreia mint. Series 7. Diademed head of Zeus-Ammon right / Two eagles with their wings closed standing left on thunderbolt; cornucopia to left. Svoronos 1424B (Joint reign of Ptolemy VI and VIII)Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II (Physcon). 145-116 BC. Æ (32mm, 27.37 g, 12h). Alexandreia mint. Collection 7. Diademed head of Zeus-Ammon proper / Two eagles with their wings closed standing left on thunderbolt; cornucopia to left. Svoronos 1424B (Joint reign of Ptolemy VI and VIII).

The widespread bronze coinage of Pot Stomach’s temporary joint reign together with his brother bears two eagles aspect by aspect on the reverse, a design as soon as used on the massive bronzes of Ptolemy II and that might be regularly repeated within the years to return[8].

The stage was set for an additional spherical of civil wars, during which Rome can be the first winner.

* * *

Notes

[1] CNG Triton XIII, 5 January 2010, Lot 239.

[2] Künker Public sale 262, 13 March 2015, Lot 7348. Realized 48,000 euro towards an estimate of 10,000.

[3] CNG Digital Public sale 282, 11 July 2012, Lot 123. Realized $340.

[4] Numismatica Ars Classica Public sale 52, 7 October 2009, Lot 198. Realized $87,125.

[5] CNG Triton XII, 6 January 2009, Lot 390. Realized $Four,250.

[6] Ira & Larry Goldberg Public sale 104, 12 June 2018, Lot 3206. Realized $1,550.

[7] Gerhard Hirsch, Public sale 245, 22 September 2011, Lot 4146. Realized $1,751.

[8] CNG digital Public sale 422, 13 June 2018, Lot 318. Realized $190.

References

Berk, Harlan J. 100 Biggest Ancient Cash. Atlanta (2008)

Faucher, Thomas and Catharine Lorber. “Bronze Coinage of Ptolemaic Egypt in the Second Century BC”, American Journal of Numismatics 22. (2011)

Fletcher, Joann. The Story of Egypt: The Civilization that Formed the World. New York (2016)

Hazzard, Richard A. Ptolemaic Cash: An Introduction for Collectors. Toronto (1995)

Landvatter, Thomas. “The Serapis and Isis Coinage of Ptolemy IV”, American Journal of Numismatics 24. (2012)

Lorber, Catharine C. Cash of the Ptolemaic Empire: Part I, Ptolemy I via Ptolemy IV (2 volumes). New York (2018)

Newell, Edward. Royal Greek Portrait Cash. New York (1937)

Pollard, Justin and Howard Reid. The Rise and Fall of Alexandria: Birthplace of the Trendy Thoughts. New York (2006)

Svoronos, Ioannis. Ta nomísmata tou krátous tōn Ptolemaíōn (Four volumes, in Greek, “Coinage of the Ptolemaic Rulers”). Athens (1904-08)

Wilkinson, Toby. The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt. New York (2010)