EGYPT Diocletian 284-305 AD tetradrachm year 2 (285 AD)


EGYPT, Diocletian, 284-305 AD, tetradrachm, year 2 (285 AD), Alexandria mint, Obverse: laureate bust R, ?????????????????????, Reverse: Homonoia standing L holding scales and cornucopia, L B, billon, 20mm, 7.78g, E4060, VF

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The coinage of Roman Egypt was entirely fiat based. The tetradrachm was not worth a tetradrachm, the drachms were not worth a drachm.

Diocletian was one of the major figures of Roman history. After defeating Carinus he proceeded to change the administrative structure of the Empire, setting up a system of divided regional commanders that set the stage for the subsequent division into eastern and western parts. He also transformed the coinage in several ways, including a range of billon denominations. Also a notable persecutor of Christians.

During the early centuries of the Roman Empire Egypt was considered the personal property of the Emperor. There was a tendency to run it as an extractive business in which profits were not reinvested. The coinage was debased to keep it in the country and to make it harder for the populace to make a living. The reference we use on this web site for coins of Roman Egypt is Alexandrian Coins, by Keith Emmett.

The Romans, as they were building their empire, preferred to let the local coinage arrangements remain in place. As they developed their political system into the Cult of Personality that was the Empire, they started putting imperial portraits on the local coins. Later, as the Empire began to shrink, they preferred to centralize their coinage operations, eliminating local control. There were also allied and client states, some of which, at times, issued coins celebrating the alliance or subservience.

Ancient Coins includes Greek and Roman coins and those of neighbors and successors, geographically from Morocco and Spain all the way to Afghanistan. Date ranges for these begin with the world’s earliest coins of the 8th century BC to, in an extreme case, the end of Byzantine Empire, 1453 AD.