Collection Highlights: Heberden Coin Room
Head of Alexander /Athena
Greek, silver tetradrachm, 30 mm diameter, Lysimachus, 280 BC.
Among the portraits of Alexander the Great that survive from antiquity, those on Greek coins provide some of the earliest and most interesting examples. Portraits of Alexander were not used on coinage during his lifetime, but do appear on the coinage of a few of his successors, including Lysimachus. For them the invocation of the image of Alexander represented a powerful claim to legitimacy. Alexander is depicted wearing a diadem, the white headband that became a symbol of kingship from the time of Alexander, and the ram's horns of Zeus Ammon. Alexander had visited the oracle at Siwa in Egypt in 331 BC, and was there proclaimed to be the son of Zeus Ammon.