• Document: 140 THE COINAGE SYSTEM OF CLEOPATRA VII, MARC ANTONY AND AUGUSTUS IN CYPRUS
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11 / 140 THE COINAGE SYSTEM OF CLEOPATRA VII, MARC ANTONY AND AUGUSTUS IN CYPRUS relationship of the bronze denominations to each other and to the declining quality of silver tetradrachm is still debated among experts. The relations of silver to bronze supplied by Hazzard3 for Egypt (and presumably for Cyprus) are accepted here for Cyprus. In 51 BC, at the ascent of Cleopatra VII, the tetradrachm was about 33% silver, about as valuable as the good silver Roman Republican denarius of c. 3.9 grams, the other contemporary trade coin of the region. Bronze coinage was already valued well above its intrinsic metal value, and the weight standard drifted. The bronze denominations of Cleopatra in Egypt were the full-unit, at an average weight of about 17 grams, and the half-unit, at an average weight of 8.5 grams. There were considerable variations of this standard. While examples of the full-unit weigh 10.6 to 22.3 grams, a specimen of the half-unit weighs 11.2 grams, a considerable variation. Types in Egypt had a well-modeled, diademed portrait of the Queen facing right. Her hair is bunched in a large bun behind, the “melon coif” for which she is still famous. The reverse showed the standard Ptolemaic eagle of Zeus standing on a thunderbolt, and facing left. A small double cornucopia (dikeras), a symbol of plenty, is in the field in front of the eagle. Full-units had the mark ∏ behind the eagle, which is Greek for 80 copper drachms. Half-units were marked M, Greek for 40 copper drachms. Both have the Greek legend, “Cleopatra Queen.” Newell considered the portraits on these Egyptian two bronze denominations to be the most realistic. Bronze portrait coin of Cleopatra from Egypt. Svor. 1872. (8.47g) What was the currency of the common people in Cyprus during the reign of Cleopatra VII? In Ptolemaic Cyprus during this period, in addition to the tetradrachms, there were drachms and five bronze denominations, each half of the previous. No gold is known. Billon tetradrachms were the largest denomination. The bronze coinage did not circulate outside of Cyprus, since it was valued only at bronze value elsewhere. The denominations, in relation to those of Egypt, are better understood through Hazzard’s recent work. Rather surprisingly, the rarest denomination of Cleopatra’s reign has the most visibility in auction listings, while the others, including the second smallest, the most common denomination, are not generally seen in auctions. 12 / 140 THE COINAGE SYSTEM OF CLEOPATRA VII, MARC ANTONY AND AUGUSTUS IN CYPRUS What Were the Denominations in Cleopatra’s Cyprus? In Cyprus, the denominations were the same as the rest of the Greek-speaking world. A tetradrachm contained four drachms. Each drachm had six obols. The obol was sometimes divided into quarters and halves. Infrequently seen foreign and antique gold was worth 12.5 times its weight in pure silver, a ratio that was true from the time of Julius Caesar until the third century AD. The denominations would have been familiar to everyone who handled money. Coins were rarely marked with denominations. Because Ptolemaic bronze denominations are not understood with certainty in relation to the silver tetradrachm in the period after Ptolemy VIII, the bronze denominations are listed here in relation to each other: as full-units, half-units, quarter-units, eighth-units and sixteenth-units. A counting board was useful for this largely base two system. The counting board was refined into the more portable, and faster, abacus. Later in this book, the bronze denominations in relation to the silver tetradrachm are derived from those used in early Roman Egypt, in agreement with Milne, RPC and Hazzard. 1.5 m long marble counting board known as the “Salamis Tablet” found on the Greek Isle of Salamis (not the Cypriot city) in 1846. Dated to c. 300 BC. 13 / 140 THE COINAGE SYSTEM OF CLEOPATRA VII, MARC ANTONY AND AUGUSTUS IN CYPRUS The Tetradrachm Tetradrachms of the later Ptolemies all have similar types. The obverse features a diademed head facing right, with a strong chin, usually wearing an aegis at the neck. The aegis, eagle and thunderbolt were symbols of Zeus. Reference books do not explicitly state that the use of these symbols assimilates the King of Egypt with Zeus. Use of this iconography moved the King “closer to the Gods” in the eyes of his subjects. Die axis is generally 12:00. The reverse says “Ptolemy, King” in Greek. To the left of the eagle are L for Year, and one or two letters that spell out the date in Greek. For example, L IB is Year 10 + 2 = 12 of the reign of the ruler, dated from the ruler’s ascension to the throne. To the right of the eagle is the mintmark ∏A, for Paphos, today sometimes called Neo- or Nea- Paphos because the Ptolemaic city of Paphos was 10 miles west of the archaic city. Most references consider the obverse of the coinage of the later Ptolemies to show a portrait of Ptolemy I Soter. On the reverse they note a dummy ∏A mintmark was copied in

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