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The first portraits, or rather images, of the rulers showed how they wanted to be seen rather than as were. These appeared on coins from around the 5th century BC.

The BM display follows a successful exhibition of town and city views on coins which are of such topographical interest.

Whom to show to illustrate this piece? The striking image of Cleopatra VII (51-30 BC), the Cleopatra we all know of from Shakespeare and the last of her Ptolemaic dynasty. The exhibition is open, free, until July 18.