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Egyptian customs triumphs

by Ursula Kampmann

June 13, 2013 – It is a rather common coin, that piece published by the online edition of Egypt’s most prominent daily newspaper. A bronze coin of Ptolemaios IV, Noeske No 148sq, in normally preserved. Similar pieces sold at Rauch in Vienna for 95 euros or at Grün in Heidelberg for 115 euros.
However, Ahmed El-Rawi, head of the central administration of antiquities unit, described the piece differently: ‘The coin is a unique Graeco-Roman artifact. It has a bearded royal face on one side and a picture of two birds standing on an olive branch on the other. The coin also bears Greek and Ptolemaic writing.’
Although we hate to contradict such a high-level official it is by no means a ‘royal face’ but a god’s head, the head of Zeus Ammon. The two standing birds are eagles as usual on Ptolemaic coins – and to be precise they are, of course, not two but only one with a shadow due to double-striking. Naturally the animal does not stand on an olive branch but on a thunderbolt – and no one has ever heard of a Ptolemaic writing – maybe because the Ptolemaic dynasty had Greek origins and the legend is hence simply written in beautiful Greek.
But of course we may blame the newspaper for these mistakes. The computer, anyway, reveals us that the photo is only an archive image. If that is correct we are very anxious after the coin’s description given by the head of the central administration of antiquities unit. Because the seized coin will certainly revolutionise our knowledge of Ptolemaic coinage, even of epigraphics. Maybe the same way as the coins found in 2009 in the basement of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo attributed to the period of when the Israelites moved to Egypt.

The newspaper article is published here.

The article regarding the ‘oldest’ coins in the world you can read in the CoinsWeekly archive.

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