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.
Mithrapata (r. 380–370 BC) is thought to be the first living person to present his portrait on coins. Previously coins had pictured divinities and mythical characters.
Currently Off View
- Ancient and Byzantine Art
- Ancient Greek
- Stater (Coin) Portraying Mithrapata
- 380 BC–375 BC
- Obverse: Lion's scalp facing Reverse: Portrait of Mithrapata, triskeles lower right, Lycian inscription Mithripati around; all within incuse square Condition: Small areas of flat striking on beard, otherwise Near Mint State
- Diam. 2.7 cm; 9.84 g
- Katherine K. Adler Memorial Fund