Obverse: Veiled Bust of Arsinoe II Crowned with a Diadem
Reverse: Double Cornucopia Bound with a Fillet
Ptolemy II Philadelphus, which means 'Brother/Sister-loving', was the second ruler of the Ptolemaic Dynasty, son of Ptolemy I and Berenike I. His construction efforts included that of building the canal that linked the Nile to the Gulf of Suez made possible by his implementation of finance reforms. He was married to his full sister Arsinoe II, depicted on the obverse of this coin. He also began a tradition of a four-yearly celebration to honor his father. It was intended to have a status equal to the Olympic games. Ptolemy II also sought to complete his father’s vision of making Alexandria the cultural capital of the Greek world including completing the Pharos, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. According to the "Letter of Aristeas", Ptolemy II requested 70 Jewish scholars come from Jerusalem to translate the Pentateuch into a Greek version to be placed into the Great Library collection, further enhancing the cultural wealth of the city. He died on January 29, 246 BC.
How many hands have touched a coin in your pocket or your purse? What eras and lands have the coin traversed on its journey into our possession? As we reach into our pockets to pull out some change, we rarely hesitate to think of who touched the coin before us, or where the coin will venture to after us. More than money, coins are a symbol of the state that struck them, of a specific time and place, whether contemporary currencies or artifacts of a long forgotten empire. This stunning hand-struck coin reveals an expertise of craftsmanship and intricate sculptural detail that is often lacking in contemporary machine-made currencies. This coin is a shining vestige of the ancient glory of Egypt under Greek rule passed from the hands of civilization to civilization, from generation to generation.