Power and Profit: The life and coins of Alexander the Great

By the time of Alexander the Great's death in 323 BCE, just a month before his thirty-third birthday, he had conquered the largest empire the world had yet seen. At the end of his short life, Alexander's influence spread from Macedonia and Greece in the west, throughout the Persian empire, and east into Asia and India. It is little wonder that images of Alexander became associated with the ideas of power and authority, and were used for many centuries on coins.

Alexander’s military campaign spread coinage in the Greek style throughout the East as far as the edges of India. His coinage began with the issue of his own coins from the mint at Tarsus in 333 BCE, which became known as 'Alexanders'. In turn, the world that emerged from the chaos of Alexander’s death created a new era for Greek coinage in the hands of his generals and successors. They utilized the image of Alexander to bolster their claims to power, and gave rise to such innovations as the depiction of a living ruler, and realistic portraiture on coins, that were fundamental to coinage in the next centuries.