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190, Lot: 136. Estimate $1000.
Sold for $2700. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

PHARONIC KINGS of EGYPT. Uncertain pharaoh. Time of the 28th-30th dynasties, circa 400-350 BC. AR Tetradrachm (22mm, 16.56 g). Imitating Athens. Head of Athena right, wearing crested Attic helmet decorated with three olive leaves over visor and a spiral palmette on the bowl / Owl standing right, head facing; olive sprig and crescent behind; all within incuse square. Flament style X; Van Alfen pl. 11. EF, some dirt and hoard patina. Exceptional preservation and metal.

Prior to the introduction of Macedonian issues beginning in the late fourth century BC, Egypt relied upon the use of imitations of Athenian tetradrachms for its international transactions. Although its presence as a major power in the eastern Mediterranean extended over two millennia, Egypt had never struck its own currency, relying instead on payment-in-kind and specie payments. By the end of the sixth century BC, the presence of Greek traders drastically altered this arrangement. Beginning with the establishment of Naukratis in the Delta, Greek coin-types, along with a steady supply of silver, flowed into Lower Egypt. There some of this material was melted and re-struck into into more localized imitative types, which then circulated into Phoenicia and points eastward. One is the 1989 Syria Hoard, containing numerous examples of these imitative types, as well as examples from the final period of Egypt as a Persian satrapy. Although the Persian Empire already had a long and well-established monetary system, these imitative Athenian tetradrachms circulated in areas in which they were already a recognized and accepted currency, allowing the satrapy of Egypt to continue its trade in those areas unimpeded.

For a more detailed discussion of Athenian imitations in Egypt, see P. van Alfen, “Owls From the 1989 Syria Hoard,” AJN Second Series, 14 (2002), p. 1-58.