Octadrachm (Coin) Portraying Arsinoe II

A work made of gold.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of gold.

Date:

261 BC, Issued by Ptolemy II
Reign of Arsinoe II, Queen of Egypt, 276–270 BC

Artist:

Greco-Egyptian

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.

In place of human ancestors, some rulers substituted real or mythic heroes or even the gods as their progenitors.

Queen Arsinoe (r. 270–260 B.C.), is portayed with a tiny horn curled around her ear. The horn was the symbol of the god Zeus-Ammon and implies that the queen was in fact, a goddess on earth.

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Ancient and Byzantine Art

Artist

Ancient Egyptian

Title

Octadrachm (Coin) Portraying Arsinoe II

Origin

Egypt

Date

276 BC–261 BC

Medium

Gold

Dimensions

Diam. 2.9 cm; 27.87 g

Credit Line

Gift of Mrs. Frederick Robinson

Reference Number

1933.795

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 .

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