Bronze coin of the city of Alexandria, reign of emperor Hadrian

Roman Period, AD 135/6
From Alexandria, Egypt

Continuity in Egyptian coin design

In 30 BC Egypt became a province of the Roman Empire. Unlike other provinces it had a centrally administered coinage produced by the Roman administration. Nonetheless, like other provincial coinages the basic design consisted of the emperor's portrait on the obverse (front) and a local design on the reverse.

Although the Roman administration did not generally seek to imitate the earlier coin designs of the Ptolemies, certain local themes would inevitably recur: the ram headed figure that appears on the reverse of this coin is the local Libyan deity Ammon. Alexander the Great had once visited Ammon's oracle at Siwah and the local god was assimilated by the Greeks to their god Zeus. Zeus Ammon became a popular theme in North African-Greek art. The god appears on the coinage of the region's Greek cities from the fifth and fourth centuries and continues to the bronze coinage of the Ptolemaic kings. The reappearance of this figure on the coinage of the Roman province in the second century BC, in the reign of the emperor Hadrian (ruled AD 117-138), is one more indication of the remarkable continuity between Greek and Roman Egypt.

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More information


K. Butcher, Roman provincial coins: an int (London, Seaby, 1988)

T. Cornell and J. Matthews, Atlas of the Roman world (Phaidon, 1987)

A. K. Bowman, Egypt after the Pharaohs 332 B (London, The British Museum Press, 1986)

A.M. Burnett, Coinage in the Roman world (London, Seaby, 1987)


Weight: 4.840 g
Diameter: 32.000 mm

Museum number

CM BMC Alexandria 677



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