Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Liberal Studies


Elizabeth Macaulay-Lewis

Subject Categories

Ancient History, Greek and Roman through Late Antiquity | Classical Archaeology and Art History | Classics | European History | Other Classics


Numismatics, tetradrachm, stater, Zeus, Athena, Herakles, Argead, Nike, Macedonia, gold, silver, coinage, Alexander, Philip


The history of Philip II of Macedon and Alexander the Great has been tremendously studied through ancient sources and archaeology. One approach has been through numismatics: a comprehensive study of currency in the form of coins and additional media for transactions, trade, payment and otherwise. This form of research gives scholars an economic perspective on the lives and campaigns of these renowned Macedonian Argead kings through statistical calculations in the form of weights, di-axes, ascertaining inauguration dates as well as appraisal of metals such as gold, silver and bronze in ancient economies, and deducing the locations of mints and various other forms of data. While significant amounts of information can be gathered from such computations concerning coinage, the iconography comprises the preponderance of what constitutes a coin.

This thesis aims to analyze the iconography found on the gold and silver coinage of Philip II of Macedon and Alexander the Great. The thesis begins with a brief history of the Argead dynasty, Philip II of Macedon, Alexander the Great, the commencement of coinage in Asia Minor as well as early Greek and Macedonian coinage. This will be accompanied by pertinent mythology, a description of the coinage and relevant terminology. Subsequently, are the arguments concerning the historical origins and dates of the iconography followed by an examination of the meanings behind the symbolism chosen for the gold and silver coinage of two of Philip and Alexander’s widely studied denominations: silver tetradrachms and gold staters.

An important part of this analysis will be to determine what messages Philip and Alexander wanted to convey by selecting such iconography for their coinage which can hypothesize about their history, motives, beliefs, successes and the particular origins of the imagery they choose for their coinage. Iconography on the coinage may even reveal more about Philip and Alexander’s personalities and their relationship with each other since these minute works of art were approved by the kings during their lifetimes. These investigations summarized at the conclusion of this thesis intend to postulate a range of themes that can be drawn from comparing the iconography selected by both Philip and Alexander and their merit to future scholars.