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Silver tetradrachm of Demetrius Poliorcetes

 

Diameter: 26.000 mm

CM 1873-8-3-1 (PCG IV.A.15)

Room 72: Ancient Cyprus

    Silver tetradrachm of Demetrius Poliorcetes

    Macedonian, 301-283 BC
    From the mint of Salamis, Cyprus

    A coin that boasts of naval supremacy

    In 306 BC the joint rulers of Macedonia, Antigonus Monophthalmos ('One-Eye') and his son Demetrius Poliorcetes ('The Besieger') launched an assault on the Egyptian kingdom of Ptolemy I Soter. In an important naval victory off the island of Salamis they smashed the Ptolemaic fleet and temporarily assumed naval supremacy from the Egyptian kings in the eastern Mediterranean. Following the death of Antigonus at the Battle of Ipsos in 301 BC, Demetrius became sole king and began to issue coins in his own name.

    The designs Demetrius chose for his new coinage draw attention to the naval basis of Demetrius' kingdom. His lands were scattered from Greece and Macedonia to Cyprus, by way of the coast of Asia Minor (Turkey), and it was sea-power that held it together.

    A figure of the goddess Nike, standing on the prow of a galley and blowing a trumpet appears on the obverse (front) of this tetradrachm. On the reverse appears the god of the sea, Poseidon, wielding a trident, with the legend 'Of King Demetrius'.

    G.K. Jenkins, Ancient Greek coins (London, Seaby, 1990)

    E.T. Newell, The coinages of Demetrius Poli (Oxford University Press, 1927)

    I.A. Carradice, Greek coins (London, The British Museum Press, 1996)

    O. Mørkholm, Early Hellenistic coinage (Cambridge University Press, 1991)

    I.A. Carradice and M.J. Price, Coinage in the Greek world (London, Seaby, 1988)

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    On display: Room 72: Ancient Cyprus

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