About this artwork
The purpose of the first portrait coins was to identify the ruler. The front side became a mirror of the sovereign’s self-image. The back was often used to communicate the ruler’s accomplishments or intentions. The profile portrait was used because it suited the very shallow depth and limited surface of the coin. The tiny images were carved by engravers into bronze dies, one for the front and another for the back. The coins were then struck, one by one, in a process similar to how modern coins are created today.
Since few citizens actually saw their sovereign, recognizable symbols such as crowns, robes, and regalia served to identify the ruler.
Alexander the Great’s successors copied his style of crown, a simple headband known as a fillet.
- Currently Off View
- Arts of the Ancient Mediterranean and Byzantium
- Ancient Greek
- Tetradrachm (Coin) Portraying Ptolemy I
- Ancient Egypt
- 176 BCE–175 BCE
- Diam. 2.5 cm; 10.17 g
- Gift of William F. Dunham