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Ptolemaic Control at Ainos – Extremely Rare Portrait of Ptolemy III

565950. SOLD $8500

PTOLEMAIC KINGS of EGYPT. Ptolemy III Euergetes. 246-222 BC. AR Tetradrachm (26mm, 13.96 g, 11h). Ainos mint. Time of the Third Syrian War, circa 245-241 BC. Diademed and draped bust right / BAΣIΛE[ΩΣ] ΠTOΛEMAIOY, eagle standing left on thunderbolt; to left, crude cult figure of Hermes Perpharaios facing on double basis; monogram to right. CPE –, cf. 754A (illegible reverse monogram) and CPE 757 (portrait of Ptolemy I, similar control and monogram); cf. Svoronos 931β (as CPE 754a). Minor surface marks. Good VF. Extremely rare.

This piece, a remarkable provincial tetradrachm bearing a portrait of Ptolemy III Euergetes rather than the dynastic founder, Ptolemy I Soter, apparently dates from a period of Ptolemaic control of Thrace during the Third Syrian War, 246-241 BC. While Ptolemy was launching an invasion of the Seleukid Kingdom, his allied generals also fought battles in the Aegean, where they were defeated, and Thrace, where Ptolemaic forces were successful in seizing territory formally occupied by the Seleukids and Antigonids. The exact timing of these battles remains uncertain, but a decree recorded in Ainos in 242 BC names Ptolemy III and his family, indicating Ptolemaic control of the city. The rare Ptolemaic tetradrachms of Ainos are designated by the control symbol, a crude cult figure of Hermes that also appeared on earlier coins of Lysimachos from the city. Polybios implies that Ainos remained under Ptolemaic control at least until the reign of Ptolemy IV began in 222 BC, but no coins are known from the city for reigns later than Ptolemy III’s.