Ptolemaic Kingdom Ptolemy III 246-222 BC Gold Octodrachm NGC AU (27.76g) 5/5 Strike 3/5 Surface and Fine Style designation for the skilled artistry displayed by this example.
Obverse-Bust of Ptolemy III facing right, radiate, diademed, draped and wearing aegis of Zeus, trident over left shoulder. Reverse of a radiant and overflowing cornucopia.
Ptolemy III Euergetes (Benefactor), the third ruler of Egypt’s Ptolemaic Dynasty and was the eldest son of Ptolemy II Philadephus. Under the rule of Ptolemy III, Egypt’s realm reached its greatest geographical limits, stretching from Cyrene in North Africa to Babylon in Mesopotamia. Rather than pursue further conquests, Ptolemy concentrated on developing prosperity within Egypt. His reign marks the apogee of the dynasty’s power. Surprisingly, Ptolemy III never issued a coin with his own portrait. This coin was struck by his son Ptolemy IV and presents the dead king with the attributes of three gods: the crown of Helios, the sun god; the armor of Zeus; and the trident of the sea god, Poseidon.
The coin itself weighs almost one ounce (27.76 grams), while most ancient gold coins weighed 4 to 8 grams. This extraordinary coin was apparently not popular for commercial use, but struck to show how rich and powerful the kingdom was. The coin may have also had a ceremonial function showcasing the Ptolemaic rulers, who were all deified during their lifetime. Some say the show of this kind of wealth lured mercenaries from around the world to fight in battles for the kingdom.