Roman Egypt: Two Tetradrachms from Alexandria

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Sulla80, Mar 7, 2020.

  1. Sulla80

    Sulla80 Well-Known Member

    Octavian (aka Augustus) conquered, or annexed, Egypt when Antony and Cleopatra committed suicide after the battle at Actium. Between 30 BC and AD 20/1 silver coins were not minted in Egypt and old Ptolemaic silver continued to circulate. Tiberius in his seventh regnal year (20/1) introduced a billion tetradrachm that was lower in silver content than Ptolemaic tetradrachms (25% vs. 33%), and which despite its heavier weight had roughly the same amount of silver as a Roman denarius.

    Although these coins are known as "Alexandrian Tetradrachms", produced in Alexandria, they were not a civic coinage for Alexandria and circulated widely in Egypt and were not used outside of the province. Butcher & Ponting in their 2015 book on "Metallurgy of Roman Silver Coinage", Ch. 20, found hints, with a small sample size, of recycling of Roman denarii or silver from the same source used to mint Alexandrian tetradrachms - element signatures similar to Lugdunum imperial denarii. They also show that the Alexandrian tetradrachms were roughly aligned with silver content of neighboring coinages from Tiberius to Trajan. I am hoping that their next book provides some metallurgical insight into these two coins (Hadrian & Antoninus Pius). Note: a review of the Butcher & Ponting book here by William E. Metcalf. Although the printed edition carries a daunting price there is a ~$47 eBook option.

    Nero issued large numbers of these, but never visited Egypt. Hadrian visited nearly every province of Rome including Egypt in AD 130 and where Antinous died and was deified as Osiris-Antinous. Antoninus Pius in contrast to his adoptive father, never visited Egypt, and uniquely didn't leave Italy during the 23 years of his reign.

    I like the style of these coins, and the scale - especially the Nilus reverse on the Hadrian and the obverse portrait on the Antoninus.
    Hadrian Alex Tetradrachm.jpg
    Egypt, Alexandria, Hadrian, AD 117-138, dated RY 19=AD 134/135, Billon-Tetradrachm
    Size: 23-24mm, 12.42g
    Obv: AVΤ ΚΑΙС ΤΡΑΙΑΝ ΑΔΡΙΑΝΟС СEΒ. laureate head left
    Rev: L ЄNNЄAK Δ, bust of Nilus right, wearing taenia and with slight drapery and cornucopia over shoulder
    Ref: RPC III 5941; Dattari (Savio) 7450-51
    Anotoninus Pius Alex Tetradrachm.jpg
    Egypt, Alexandria, Antoninus Pius, AD 138-161, dated RY 3=AD 139/140, Billon-Tetradrachm
    Size: 22-24mm, 13.06g
    Obv: ΑVΤ Κ Τ ΑΙΛ ΑΔΡ ΑΝΤⲰΝΙΝΟϹ; bare head of Antoninus Pius, right
    Rev: Eirene standing left, holding two grain ears in right hand and and caduceus in left arm, L TPI TOV around (regnal year 3),
    Ref: Dattari (Savio) 2216; Köln 1320.

    As always corrections or additions to the information above are always appreciated. Post your Alexandrian (Egyptian) tetradrachms or anything else you find interesting or entertaining.
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2020
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  3. Spaniard

    Spaniard Well-Known Member

    @Sulla80....Lovely coins and thanks for the eBook link..
    Hope you dont mind me sharing these again...
    Antoninus Pius, 138 - 161 AD, AE Drachm, Egypt, Alexandria Mint, 34mm, 29.55 grams
    Obverse: Laureate head of Antoninus right.
    Reverse: L DEKATOV, Zeus holding patera and scetpre reclining left on open wings of eagle.
    Emmett1699 // Dattari2933 // Koln1560 // Milne1905
  4. Mat

    Mat Ancient Coincoholic

    Great examples love the Pius portrait.
    Broucheion likes this.
  5. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member

    Γ (date==3) TPI TOV
    I would have read this not as gamma but L reading up before the word TPI TOV which is third.
  6. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter 3rd Century Usurper

    Perhaps my favorite drachm....

    Hadrian, AE drachm, Nilos reclining.

    Egypt, Alexandria - Hadrian. (117-138)
    Year 127-128

    Type: AE Drachm, 32mm 24.42 grams

    Obverse: AVT KAI TPAI AAPIA CEB, Laureate draped and cuirassed bust right

    Reverse: LDW (delta) EK in exergue, Nilos reclining left upon a crocodile, holding cornucopia and reed, Genius emerging from the cornucopia and pointing at letters IS in upper field

    Reference: Milne 1269


  7. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member

    IS (16 cubits) is the Nilometer level required to flood the fields and guarantee a harvest the next year. The coin is year 12 spelled out dodek. My Antoninus Pius is LIS or year 16 conveniently combining the two uses of 16.
    I found this chart interesting.
  8. Sulla80

    Sulla80 Well-Known Member

    Thanks, @dougsmit - I definitely have that wrong and do very much appreciate the correction (will also update the OP).
    Thanks for sharing and don't mind seeing those coins again. I wouldn't not mind at all finding a nice Nilus reclining with crocodile like yours or @ancient coin hunter's Hadrian.
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2020
    ominus1 likes this.
  9. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter 3rd Century Usurper

    Nilometer at Elephantine Island...

  10. Bing

    Bing Illegitimi non carborundum Supporter

    Hadrian 10.jpg
    Billon Tetradrachm
    OBVERSE: AΥT KAI TΡAIAN AΔΡIANOC CEB, laureate head left
    REVERSE: L EN-NEAKΔ (year 19), naked bust of Nilus right, wearing taenia, lotus on head, cornucopia on shoulder
    Struck at Alexandria, Egypt, 134/5AD
    8.95g. 24.6mm
    Dattari 1430, Geissen 1147, Curtis 452,SNG Cop 393, BMC Alexandria 645 var (aegis)
    Hadrian 9.jpg
    AR Denarius
    OBVERSE: HADRIANVS AVG COS III P P, Laureate head right
    REVERSE: AFRICA, Africa reclining left holding scorpion & cornucopiae, basket of grain at feet
    Struck at Rome, 136 AD
    2.76g. 18.5mm
    RIC 299/RSC 138
  11. Sulla80

    Sulla80 Well-Known Member

    optimal flood and RY 16, interesting - thanks for the link on nilometer.
  12. Cucumbor

    Cucumbor Well-Known Member

    Beautiful coins @Sulla80
    Some of mine

    Nero and Poppaea, tetradrachm Alexandria mint, AD 63-64
    NERO KLAY KAIS SEB TEP AY, radiate head of Nero right
    TTOTTTTAIA SEBASTH, draped bust of Poppaea right, LI in right field
    12.3 gr
    Ref : RCV # 2002 v, Emmett # 129

    Hadrian, Drachm - Alexandria mint, ca AD 131-132
    AVT KAI TRAI ADRIA CEB, Draped and laureate bust of Hadrian right
    Nilus leaning left. Behind an hippopotamus. L IS in field (regnal year 16)
    23.87 gr
    Ref : Sear #1259, RCV #3763 var, Emmett #1017/16

    Mamaea, Alexandria tetradrachm - AD 231-232 (year 11),
    IOY MAMAIA CE MHTE CEB K CT , Diademed and draped bust of Mamaea right
    Radiate and draped bust of Helios right. in front, palm-branch and behind LIA.
    12.67gr.- 23.5mm
    Ref : Emmett # 3205 (R4)
    From the E.E. Clain-Stefanelli collection.


    Probus, Tetradrachm - Alexandria AD 277
    A K M AVPTTPBOC CEB, Laureate and cuirassed bust of Probus right
    Eagle right, head left, holding wreath in beak. LB in field (regnal year 2)
    6,69 gr
    Ref : Sear #4773v, Emmett #3983/2

  13. Justin Lee

    Justin Lee I learn by doing

    Wonderful new coins! :jawdrop: No, I'm not jealous at all... :shifty::bored::D

    Antoninus Pius, Ruled 138-161 AD
    AE Drachm, Alexandria, Egypt

    Obverse: AVT K T AIΛ ADRI ANTωNINOC ЄVCCЄB, Laurate and bearded bust right.
    Reverse: EYΘHNIA, Euthenia reclining left on sphinx, holding grain ears, outstretched fold of garment containing fruit and lotus, LΓ in exergue, RY 3 (139/140 AD).
    References: Emmett 1518
    Size: 35mm, 23.2g

    Hadrian, Ruled 117-138 AD
    AE Hemidrachm, Alexandria, Egypt
    Obverse: AVT KAI AΔPIANOC ЄVCЄB, laureate, draped and cuirassed bust facing right.
    Reverse: Euthenia reclining left on Sphinx, holding grain ears, date L ΔWΔE K in exergue, dated RY 12 (127/128 AD).
    References: Emmett 1086
    Size: 29mm, 12.5g

    Marcus Aurelius
    BL Tetradrachm, Alexandria, Egypt

    Struck Year 5, 164/165 AD
    Obverse: M AYΡHΛIOC ANTΩNINOC C (Ω inverted), laureate head right.
    Reverse: Tyche seated left, kalathos on head, holding rudder and cornucopiae; L-Є (date) RY 5 = 164/165 AD.
    References: Dattari 3394, Emmett 2085.5
    Size: 23mm, 15g

    Vespasian, Ruled 69-79 AD
    BL Tetradrachm, Egypt, Alexandria
    Struck Year 2, 69/70 AD

    Obverse: AVTOK KAIΣ ΣEBA OVEΣΠAΣIANOV, laureate head right, date LB (year 2 = 69/70 AD) in lower-right field.
    Reverse: Nike advancing left, holding wreath and palm.
    References: Emmett 205, Dattari 360

    Domitian, Ruled 81-96 AD
    AE Diobol, Egypt, Alexandria
    Struck 88/89 AD

    Obverse: AYTOK KAIΣAP Δ•MITIANOE ΣEB ΓEPM, laureate head right.
    Reverse: Draped bust of Alexandria right in elephant headdress, date ΕΤΟVΣ ΟΓΔΟΟV as legend, RY 8. (Original collector’s envelope is misattributed.)
    References: Emmett 278 (reverse unlisted for this year)
    Size: 23mm, 7.7g
    Ex: The Reverend Willis McGill Collection

    Claudius, Ruled 41-54 AD
    AE Diobol, Alexandria, Egypt
    Struck Year 2, 41-42 AD

    Obverse: TI KΛAY KAI CEBAC ΓEPM, laureate head right; star before.
    Reverse: AYTOKPA, bull butting right, LB in exergue (RY 2 = 41-42 AD)
    References: RPC I 5138, Emmett 77.2
    Size: 25mm, 7.4g
    Broucheion, Spaniard, Sulla80 and 3 others like this.
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