Skip to Content
Closed today, next open tomorrow. Closed today, next open tomorrow.

Tetradrachm (Coin) Portraying Ptolemy I

A work made of silver.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

Image actions

  • A work made of silver.

Date:

176-175 BCE, Reign of Ptolemy VI (181–145 BCE)

Artist:

Greek, Ptolemaic

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.

Status

Currently Off View

Department

Arts of the Ancient Mediterranean and Byzantium

Culture

Ancient Greek

Title

Tetradrachm (Coin) Portraying Ptolemy I

Origin

Ancient Egypt

Date

176 BCE–175 BCE

Medium

Silver

Dimensions

Diam. 2.5 cm; 10.17 g

Credit Line

Gift of William F. Dunham

Reference Number

1920.700

IIIF Manifest  The International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) represents a set of open standards that enables rich access to digital media from libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions around the world.

Learn more.

https://api.artic.edu/api/v1/artworks/139858/manifest.json

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.

Share

Sign up for our enewsletter to receive updates.

Learn more

Image actions

Share