Although the image of one eagle (the badge of Ptolemaic royalty) is shown on the vast majority of ancient Egyptian Ptolemaic bronze coins, a two-eagle symbol forms the second most common reverse type.
The two-eagle reverse type first appeared c.262 BC in the time of Ptolemy II (285-246 BC) and occurred at various periods until the end of the Ptolemaic dynasty (Cleopatra VII, 51-30 BC).
Since 1897, there has been no general review of this two-eagle coinage; the question “Why was the image of dual eagles placed on so many Ptolemaic coins during various times?” remains unresolved.
Two hypotheses have been presented to account for two-eagle Ptolemaic coinage.
A. Two eagles indicate a denomination.
B. Two eagles indicate a co-regency.
This web site reviews these two possibilities and shows that only B fits the evidence available from individual coins and coin hoards. It is shown that hypothesis A is not viable and that B provides a good hypothesis to explain the occurrence of two-eagle symbols on Ptolemaic bronze coinage. (See
Part 1 and
Such a conclusion is contrary to many currently held views. There is a commonly held belief that two eagles are denominational markers (i.e., hypothesis A). This "conventional wisdom" arose from an influential 1897 review that concluded (from now recognized faulty data) that two eagles can not symbolize co-regency. (See Part 3.)
This strongly held view has been instrumental in decisions to decline publication, in prominent numismatic journals, of a manuscript that gives background and evidence in support of hypothesis B. (See Part 5.) To read or to print a copy of the manuscript (see Part 6). The inability to publish elsewhere has led to making the manuscript available on the web and to presenting this web-based review
(go to Part 1 Denominations).