Tetradrachm (Coin) Portraying Mithradates VI of Pontus and Bithynia

A work made of silver.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of silver.

Date:

90/89 BC, reign of Mithradates VI of Pontus and Bithynia (120–63 BC)

Artist:

Greek, Kingdom of Pontus

About this artwork

Coinage of Hellenistic Rulers
The Hellenistic period spans the nearly three hundred years between the death of Alexander the Great of
Macedonia (323 B.C.) and that of Cleopatra VII of Egypt (30 B.C.), a descendant of one of Alexander’s generals. The term Hellenistic is derived from Hellas, an ancient Greek word for Greece. It is used to describe both chronologically and culturally the era following Alexander’s conquest of Egypt and Asia, which resulted in the spread of Greek culture across a vast area. The melding of local and Greek artistic styles with the luxurious materials captured in the conquered lands resulted in magnificent artwork, including elegant coinage.
Following Alexander’s death, his empire was divided among his generals, who established independent kingdoms in Egypt; Persia; the eastern coast of the Aegean Sea, including Syria and Palestine; Greece and Macedonia; and Thrace. Almost immediately the generals began to covet each other’s land and power.

Kingdom of Pontus
Mithridates of Pontus VI (r. 120–63 B.C.) was the last of the Hellenistic kings to fend off the encroaching Romans. He issued this coin during his temporarily successful military campaign to free Greece from Roman rule. Like others before him, Mithridates purposely adopted the tousled hair and fierce gaze of the young Macedonian king (see no. 1). However, at the time this coin was struck, Mithridates was 50 years old, demonstrating that well over two centuries after Alexander’s death, his portrait was still the archetypal image for kings.

On View

Ancient and Byzantine Art, Gallery 151

Artist

Ancient Greek

Title

Tetradrachm (Coin) Portraying Mithradates VI of Pontus and Bithynia

Origin

Greece

Date

90 BC–89 BC

Medium

Silver

Inscriptions

Reverse: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΜΙΘΡΑΔΑΤΟΥ ΕΥΠΑΤΟΡΟΣ "King Mithradates Eupator" (Monogram: ΒΚ) (In field: ΗΣ Θ) "Year 208 month 9"

Dimensions

Diam. 3.1 cm; 16.87 g

Credit Line

Gift of Martin A. Ryerson

Reference Number

1922.4928

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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