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

Roman Period, AD 131/2
From Alexandria, Egypt

Commemoration of an imperial visit to Egypt on a bronze coin

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. In common with other provincial coinages the opportunity was taken to use the design on the reverse to stress links between the place of production and the emperor and his family.

Apart from the local imperial cult (the religious worship of the emperor), provinces might also have contact with the emperor through an imperial visit. These were clearly a fitting subject for treatment in coin design. On this example, from the mint of Alexandria, a visit of the emperor Hadrian to the province in AD 131 is recorded. The emperor is shown seated on a barge, probably arriving at the port of Alexandria. Above is inscribed the year of Hadrian's reign: year 15 (equivalent to AD 131/2). The emperor's portrait appears on the obverse.

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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: 9.160 g
Diameter: 25.000 mm

Museum number

CM 1864-11-18-388 (BMC Alexandria 871)



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