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Tetradrachm (Coin) Portraying Queen Cleopatra VII

A work made of silver.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of silver.

Date:

37-33 BCE, issued by Mark Antony

Artist:

Roman; minted in Eastern Mediterranean (possibly Antioch, Syria)

About this artwork

Cleopatra (69–30 BC) was queen of Egypt when the Roman Empire was gradually expanding into the wealthy eastern Mediterranean. By allying herself first with the powerful Roman generals Julius Caesar (100–44 BC) and then Mark Antony (83–30 BC), she hoped to maintain her country’s independence and her own authority. The political alliance between Antony and Cleopatra worried Caesar’s heir, Octavian, who, in 31 BC, defeated the couple in a sea battle. Rather than suffer the humiliation of surrender, Cleopatra and Antony killed themselves.

This coin was minted during Antony and Cleopatra’s alliance. By pairing their faces on coinage, the rulers advertised their powerful partnership, which was so strong that Cleopatra’s profile is an exact copy of Antony’s portrait (see below). Cleopatra’s image appears on the front of the coin, which identifies her as the more important of the two rulers. A crown circling her carefully braided hair symbolizes her status as a queen.

On View

Ancient and Byzantine Art, Gallery 153

Culture

Ancient Roman

Title

Tetradrachm (Coin) Portraying Queen Cleopatra VII

Origin

Syria

Date

Struck 37 BCE–33 BCE

Medium

Silver

Dimensions

Diam. 2.6 cm (1 1/16 in.), 15.22 g

Credit Line

Katherine K. Adler Memorial Fund

Reference Number

2008.173

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.

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