Just to show that no matter how much time you spend in Egypt, you will always see something new. These coins are from 2005. In all my travels, I’ve never come across a LE 1 coin before (top), with that distinctive style, featuring the mask of Tutankhamun. I would remember if I had done so! I have seen the 50 Piastre coin, with a profile portrait of Cleopatra VII only once or twice.
In Egypt, you rarely come across coins. Notes run right down to 25 Piastre, which is usually the smallest amount a foreigner is going to handle, being the price for a bus ride in most towns until recently (on my last visit the fare had gone up in some areas). So, to see that the Egypt mint has taken the trouble of producing a LE 1 coin is quite a surprise, though a welcome one. Why they don’t produce more of both coins and withdraw the huge piles of dog eared 25-50 piastre, and LE 1 notes from circulation, and replace them all with these beautiful bits of metal is anyone’s guess.
Lovely work, on part of the coin designers.
It is a general belief that the Ancient Egyptians had no coins. Throughout the vast majority of Egyptian history that is absolutely right. Instead a system of weights of metal were used to determine values – the deben (Old Kingdom and Middle Kingdom), and the deben-qedet systems (New Kingdom and Late Period). However, from the 26th Dynasty onward, Egypt hired large numbers of Greek mercenaries. Initially these mercenaries were paid as the Egyptians had traditionally rewarded their soldiers, by giving them fields. The problems with this solution however, are quite clear. Eventually, this situation gave rise to something relatively few people are actually aware of… Pharaonic coins.
This is not Ptolemaic, whose coins are quite widely known, or from the Persian occupation periods when Persians satraps did produce their own coins. Below, however is an actual pharaonic coin, minted in the 30th Dynasty reign of Nectanebo II, and is now in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.
The hieroglyphs on the side shown above read nb nfr, “Good gold”, a reassurance, or perhaps a guarantee, that the gold is pure. The coin itself is something of an interesting hybrid, with it’s inscription in hieroglyphs and then a decidedly Greek looking horse. Some other coins also existed that had demotic rather than hieroglyphic inscriptions, but all retain their quasi-greek flavour, since it is most likely they were introduced with the specific intent of paying hired Greek mercenaries. Few coins have been found, and they seem to have had little impact on the populace as a whole.