Face attributed to Ptolemy II Philadelphos or a contemporary

Period: Ptolemaic Period

Dynasty: Ptolemaic Dynasty

Reign: reign of Ptolemy II Philadelphos

Date: 285–246 B.C.

Geography: From Egypt, Memphite Region, Heliopolis (Iunu; On), Near the obelisk, BSAE excavations 1912

Medium: Graywacke

Dimensions: H. 16.2 cm (6 3/8 in.); W. 10.8 cm (4 1/4 in.); D. 6 cm (2 3/8 in.)

Credit Line: Gift of The Egyptian Research Account and British School of Archaeology in Egypt, 1912

Accession Number: 12.187.31


After the death of Alexander the Great in 323 B.C., his empire was divided among his generals. Egypt was allotted to General Ptolemy and his successors. Son and coregent of Ptolemy I, Ptolemy II revived the tradition of brother-sister marriage practiced by some earlier Egyptian kings by marrying his sister Arsinoe II. He also contracted diplomatic marriages with other Hellenistic rulers. He campaigned throughout the eastern Mediterranean and Libya, into northern Lower Nubia, and restored the canal from the Nile to the Red Sea.

The superb workmanship of this face shows that the skills of the royal workshops had survived the period of upheaval from Egyptian to Persian to Hellenistic rule.