Octodrachm (Coin) Portraying Queen Arsinoë II

A work made of gold.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of gold.


Ptolemaic Period (after 270 BC), issued by King Ptolemy II or III


Greco-Egyptian, probably minted in Alexandria, Egypt

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 the Ptolemies
Until the Hellenistic period, it was very rare for the portrait of a queen to appear on a coin. However, Arsinoe’s status as the daughter of Ptolemy I and the sister and wife of Ptolemy II earned her this posthumous honor. Arsinoe ruled equally with her brother-husband, contributing especially to the success of Egypt’s foreign policy.

On View

Ancient and Byzantine Art, Gallery 151


Ancient Greek


Octodrachm (Coin) Portraying Queen Arsinoë II




270 BC






Diam. 2.9 cm; 27.76 g

Credit Line

Gift of Martin A. Ryerson

Reference Number


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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