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Two Eagles on Ptolemaic Coins as Representations of Co-Regency

Review of denominations of early Ptolemaic bronze coins  -  Ptolemy II 

In the reign of Ptolemy II (284-246 BC), a major reform of Egyptian bronze coinage occurred; extremely large coins (e.g., c.105g/48mm) were produced while the smallest denomination weighed c.3g/16mm (see table).  The variation of types on obverses and reverses has been taken to show various denominations.  For example, the value of module B would have been indicated by the two-eagle reverse type.  Before considering (in Parts 2 a,b) any special symbolism of the two-eagle reverse on module B, Part 1 reviews the general possibility of denominational indicators on early Ptolemaic bronze coinage.Parts 1b and 1c readily show that two-eagle symbol does not indicate denomination.

Module   Obverse   Reverse Diameter Weight
A Ammon eagle, ow, hr 48 mm 76-105 g
B Ammon two eagles, cw 42 mm 62-78 g
C Ammon eagle, ow 36 mm 41-50 g
D Zeus eagle, cw 30 mm 17-25 g
E Alexander eagle, ow 24 mm 9-15 g
F Alexander eagle, ow 20 mm 5-8 g
G Ammon eagle, ow 18 mm 4-6 g
H Ammon eagle, ow 16 mm 2-4 g

 O. Mørkholm, Early Hellenistic Coinage (Cambridge, 1991), p.105.

 ow = open wings; cw = closed wings; hr = head reverted











Compare denominations A,B, C

Compare denominations C and D

Compare denominations E and F

Compare denominations G and H

Click on one of the boxes above; a comparison of modules (i.e., denominations) will appear here.

Conclusions, based on the comparison, will appear below.

References and a general summary are also available (click on these labels above).


General summary of results:   View coins and compare the differences and similarities of the denominations

The above comparisons of  Ptolemy II′s bronze coinage show that each module in the series differs not just in weight and size.  If there are six (rather than eight) denominations, then each of these six also has a different combination of obverse and/or reverse types.   

The differences noted for the six modules (i.e.,  closed wings vs. open wings,  right vs. left facing eagles,  Zeus vs. Ammon vs. Alexander) have been taken to indicate the various denominations.Possibility of a total of six rather than eight denominations

That a unique combination of obverse and reverse types for each of six (but not eight) denominations can be pointed out does not show that the different designs were meant to denote denomination. The question "Did the Ptolemaic mint purposefully put features on the coins of Ptolemy II that would aid identification of each denomination?" is not answered by the above comparisons.Did differences indicate denomination? 

The differences in obverses and  reverses are subtle and complicated in their variety;  they seem to make poor denominational markers.  On the other hand, differing weights and sizes define the basic characteristic of Ptolemaic denominations and they are the most obvious features of the coinage.  With some possible problems regarding identification of the smallest in the series of eight modules, weight and size seem to adequately indicate the relative denominations of all Ptolemy II's coins.

There has been no general review of possible denominational markers on the coinage after Ptolemy II.  Comparisons with the coins of other Ptolemies can show whether or not designs on the obverses / reverses were meant to be denominational markers.  The question "Are there denominational indicators on the coins of Ptolemy III?" is considered in Part 1a.

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