EGYPT Hadrian 117-138 AD billon tetradrachm year 17 Alexandria mint


EGYPT, Hadrian, 117-138 AD, tetradrachm, year 17 (133 AD), Alexandria mint, Obverse: laureate bust R, ΑΥΤ ΚΑΙΣ ΑΡ ΑΔΡΙΑ ΣΕΒ, Reverse: bust of Alexandria with elephant headdress R, L ΔΕΚΑΤΟΥ, billon, 24mm, 10.65g, E805, most of legends & elephant headdress corroded away, Hadrian portrait is nice, F

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Hadrian came to the throne because Plotina, wife of Trajan, said that the dying Emperor had named him, without witnesses, as heir. His first job was to finish the Second Jewish Revolt. He spent a lot of his time touring the Empire, built Hadrian’s Wall in northern England.

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.