|Antony and Cleopatra by Lawerence Alma- Tadema; Courtesy of WikiCommons|
The story of Marc Antony and Cleopatra is a love story of seduction, exotic locations, love-triangles, family, politics, war, and suicide. More importantly, their love affair was connected to the rise and fall of the Roman and Egyptian empire. It is easy to see how their love affair is intriguing tale for centuries worth of audiences from Plutarch's portrayal to Elizabeth Taylor's role to HBO's Rome Series. While there are countless of images produce of their romantic and tragic life; there something extraordinary in contemporary pieces that show both couples.
A recent archaeological discover in Tel Bethsaida (Northern coast of the
This coin found in Tel Bethsaida was actually minted in the
Cleopatra's side of the coin, it is somewhat unclear in the photo above, but one can see the Greek word: ΠΤΟΛΕΜΙδΣ . This is the genitive form of the noun Ptolemais which means: "of the people of Ptolemais." Ptolemais is the name for ancient
"The cities of the ancient Middle East had a habit of minting coins bearing the portraits of whoever was in power," says Dr. Ariel, head of Israel Antiquities Authority Coin Department. In 35 BCE,
Dating the coin was an interesting journey. Dr. Arav of the Bethsaida Excavations Project said the dating system was difficult to find. He continued to explain to me through our email conversations: On the Cleopatra side of the coin, there is a small I (iota) and E (epsilon). The Greek alphabet goes as follows : A=1, B=2, Γ=3, Δ=4, and so on. Thus, I and E in their numbering system are 10 and 5 respectively. Therefore, the I and E means 15.
However, what does the 15 mean? Dr. Arav explained that book research was essential in the following discovery: The people of Ptolemais valued greatly the event of Julius Caesar visiting the area to rid their waters of pirates. This event happened in 49BCE, the people of Ptolemais therefore used their dating system in reference to 49BCE. Thus, 49BCE being the starting date, 15 years later would be 35-34 BCE.
Dr. Ariel said, "Coins with the portraits of
Courtesy of Wikicommons
|Silver denarius of Cleopatra VII and Mark Antony , 30's BCE. Courtesy of the |
Thus, this infamous couple continues to engage, fill, and plague our minds. Though, they are long dead and their story known by most; they continue to be the topic of much discussion, debate, and obsession.
Main Sources & Contributors:
Private Correspondence with Dr. Arav
1. Israel Antiquities Authority Coin Department
Plutarch, Life of