Essays on the coinage of Alexander the Great


In normal circumstances it might be assumed that Alexander's main mint was at his administrative capital, Pella. Newell, however, reviewed this assumption and concluded" that 'the numerous later coinages of the same mint appear to prove conclusively' that the mint was located at Amphipolis and not at Pella. The specific reasons were never laid out, but it is possible to reconstruct why Newell was so positive in his attribution. He placed as no. 1582 in the publication of the Demaahur hoard the variety here numbered .25. This became his 'Amphipolis' group K and was placed immediately after group J, the n group (here numbered 122-7). In fact, as Newell recognised, group K consists of several varieties, all signed with the Greek letter A (.21-6) which links them with the subsequent groups of A with bu(ranium (.29-33) and A with torch (.38-97). It is this last long issue, produced at the main mint employed for the silver coinage of Cas sander, that identifies the mint of Amphipolis. The prominent torch symbol, which lasts over .. great number of issues , can hardly be the symbol of a single individual and is almost universally accepted as being the racing torch that is the badge' of Amphipolis on all that city's fourth century Be issues. It would appear, therefore, that Newell understood the sequence at Alexander's main mint as: group J, group K, A with butranium, A with torch; and so the attribution appeared secure. The bucranium, a possible reference to Artemis Tauropolos, the great goddess of Amphipolis. is equally appropriate as a city symbol.

It is, however, clear that gold and silver issues in the name of Alexander could remain in circulation for a very long time after minting and fourth century BC silver issues regularly survived into second century Be hoards. Such pieces were dearly acceptable even after they had received considerable wear, and would be measurably lighter than they had been in the fourth century BC. This may help to explain why the later posthumous issues tend to have a much greater spread of weights. Whereas it must have been known that the standard for the Alexander tetradrachm was c. 17.30 g, many Alexanders in circulation weighed less than 17.00 g and were still fully acceptable. The fashion for striking these coins in the late third and second centuries BC may owe something to the fact that the cities could strike slightly lightweight Attic pieces of Alexander type and still have them accepted as a popular coinage.

It has further been suggested that there was a slight adjustment downwards of the weight in 317 BC, or shortly thereafter. I This is evident in the Babylon wreath group. where only two coins reach 17.15 g. but at Amphipolis, although a somewhat greater proportion of coins weigh around 17.00 g than in the previous groups. there are still sufficient pieces weighing around 17.20 g to suggest that it was not the standard that had been lowered. but rather that there was a tendency to strike a greater proportion of slightly lighter coins. This is of interest since any change in the ratio of gold to silver. caused for example by the influx of gold into Greece following Alexander's successes in the East. might well be reflected in the weight of the tetradrachm. There is no reason to believe that it was.


For silver at least the reform that created Alexander's new coinage thus occurred early in his reign. It is probable that the first gold issue also preceded the departure of the expedition to free the Greek cities of Asia Minor. It must be remembered that Alexander, as Philip before him, set great store by being elected general of the Corinthian League of Greek states, and it is in the context of the events of 336-334 BC that the new coinage designs must be interpreted. It was believed in ancient timess that Philip was personally responsible for the coin design that celebrated his victory in the Olympic games, and it would seem very probable that Alexander had a personal interest in the designs chosen to replace those of his father. Their message is clear - that the new Macedonian king was a Greek leading the Greeks, and that if the gods looked favourably upon their expedition, there was every expectation that victory would come to the Greek cause.

essays on the coinage of alexander the great - …

The original scope of the Museum's Greek catalogues has been expanded. Here the main emphasis has been to create a list of as many varieties as have been found in carrying out the research necessary to produce the Museum catalogue. To this the details of the Museum's holdings have been appended. and these are the examples used as illustrations on the plates. Although this has more than doubled the number of varieties published by Muller. it is still not possible to claim that the list is at all complete. Almost every hoard or large collection produces new varieties of greater or lesser importance. and in the final stages of the preparation of this list far too many new varieties have been recorded. some of which have even provided evidence for mints not previously known to have struck this coinage. I However, the catalogue does provide a serviceable list which will offer scholars not intimately concerned with the minutiae of the Alexander coinage a guide through the complexities of the series. This book is an attempt to gather in one place what has been published in the past, and to act as a springboard for work in the future.

Essays on the coinage of Alexander the Great: …

CiNii Books - Essays on the coinage of Alexander the Great

The essays in this volume - written by twenty international scholars - are dedicated to Professor Brian Bosworth who has, in over forty-five years, produced arguably the most influential corpus of historical and historiographical research by one scholar. Professor Bosworth's name is often synonymous with scholarship on Alexander the Great, but his expertise also spreads far wider, as the scope of these essays demonstrates. The collection's coverage ranges from Egyptian and Homeric parallels, through Roman historiography, to Byzantine coinage.

However, the life of Alexander provides the volume's central theme, and among the topics explored are the conqueror's resonance with mythological figures such as Achilles and Heracles, his divine pretensions and military display, and his motives for arresting his expedition at the River Hyphasis in India. Some of Alexander's political acts are also scrutinized, as are the identities of those supposedly present in the last symposium where, according to some sources, the fatal poison was administered to the king. Part of the collection focuses on Alexander's legacy, with seven essays examining the Successors, especially Craterus, and Ptolemy, and Alexander's ill-fated surviving dynasty, including Olympias, Eurydice, and Philip III Arrhidaeus.

Essays on the Coinage of Alexander the Great

attractive both before the expedition set out, and throughout the rest of the reign, but the explicit naval reference has one very significant explanation: the memory of the previous victory of the Greeks over the Persians at the battle of Salamis. On that occasion the Macedonians were conspicuous by the negative part that they had played in the Greek success; but in the mid 330s Be Alexander, as leader of the league of Greek states, could with good political judgement recall that great victory. The Victory of Salamis symbolically offers Alexander the crown for new victories. It has recendy been argued that the crossing of the Hellespont was itself a notable victory at sea. and that this was the victory commemorated. I It should, however. be remembered that the forces of Philip were already encamped on Asian soil in 336 Be. It is symbolism rather than any specific historical reference which is more likely to have led to this coin design. The superiority of the Greeks at sea is the theme. and the memory of the battle of Salamis had been kept alive in Greek tradition.

Essays on the coinage of Alexander the Great, by Alfred R

This compilation of the coinage in the name of Alexander and Philip Arrhidaeus began in 1969 as the catalogue of the substantial holdings of the British Museum. In fact, it had previously been reported to the Trustees of the Museum, on 11 June 1910, that a catalogue of this section of the collection was in preparation, but the complexity of the series prevented that publication, and indeed any other attempt to create a list of varieties to supersede that of Ludwig Muller. A very great deal of progress has been made in the twentieth century to unravel the chronology and mint attributions of these coinages, pioneered in particular by Edward Newell and his successors at the American Numismatic Society, Sydney Noe, Margaret Thompson, Nancy Waggoner and Heidi Troxell. This book utilises the work of these scholars to a very great extent. After cataloguing the coins in the British Museum collection it became clear that there was need for a more comprehensive work to gather the many varieties that have surfaced since Muller's book was published, and to review in one place the many contributions that have been made in more recent years and which lie scattered in a great variety of books and journals.

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Coins were not only used as money. In ancient Greece, coins were also believed to have magical powers. The Greeks designed their coins with pictures of their gods and goddesses. The Greeks were the first civilization to use pictures of real people on their coins. The first was Alexander the Great, back around 325 BCE. As time went on, the Greeks created bigger coins, each designed to commemorate a special event.