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This coin has been stamped in Egypt by Ptolemy, the founder of the Ptolemaic dynasty, former general of recently deceased Alexander the great. Each diadochus (general from the Macedonian army) had taken a part of the empire created by Alexander. They stamped coins with Alexander’s portrait to express their personal power. Alexander is represented here with an elephant skin, a reminder of his Indian conquest (in reality he stopped on Indus’ bank).
The tetradrachme was an ancient Greek silver coin equivalent to four drachmae. In Athens it replaced the earlier “heraldic” type of didrachmae and it was in wide circulation from ca. 510 to ca. 38 BC.
The tetradrachme’s use as a currency was soon adopted by many other city-states of ancient Greece, Asia Minor, Magna Grecia and other Greek colonial cities throughout the Mediterranean Sea. With the armies of Alexander the Great it spread to the Greek-influenced areas of present-day Iran and India.
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