Byzantine Cyprus

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Valentinian, Jan 26, 2021.

  1. Valentinian

    Valentinian Supporter! Supporter

    The island of Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean Sea hosted a Byzantine mint (probably at the city of Constantina) for three years under emperor Heraclius, 610-641. All the coins are dated years 17, 18, or 19.


    30-21 mm. 4.72 grams. Remarkably large for the type.
    Three standing figures facing, each holding a long cross. Heraclius (in the middle), Heraclius Constantine (his son), and Martina (his wife).

    Large M, ANNO to left, XuII (for year17 = AD 627/8) to the right
    KYΠPI (for "Cyrpus") in exergue.
    Sear 849.
    Grierson 432-433.
    DOC 2.1 Heraclius 184, plate XVII.

    The mint is unusual but the type is common. It must have been minted in large numbers.

    Wikipedia says, "In the Roman era, copper was mined principally on Cyprus, the origin of the name of the metal, from aes сyprium (metal of Cyprus), later corrupted to сuprum (Latin). Coper (Old English) and copper were derived from this, the later spelling first used around 1530."

    That might explain why Heraclius established a mint there (but it does not explain why it was not established earlier or closed so soon).

    Heraclius was emperor when the Arabs conquered the east coast of the Mediterranean in the 630s, opposite Cyprus. Some "Arab-Byantine" coins imitate this type. Many very similar coins, but smaller and cruder, are found there and may be originals or may be "Arab-Byzantine" imitations.

    Later the type was imitated with modifictations:


    23 mm. 4.35 grams. Mint of Tiberias, struck 660-680,
    Foss Arab-Byzantine Coins 81.
    You can read the name of the city beginning at 10:30 and going counterclockwise:

    Show us anything relevant.
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  3. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    Nothing relevant to add, but the Tiberias coin is exceptional.
  4. gogili1977

    gogili1977 Well-Known Member

  5. Caesar_Augustus

    Caesar_Augustus Well-Known Member

    Here's one from just over the pond at Thessaloniki. This one is overstruck on a Phocas follis.

    Heraclius & Heraclius Constantine
    AE Follis
    617 - 618 A.D., Thessaloniki Mint, 2nd Officina
    9.69g, 33.0mm, 6H

    Obverse: DN hERACLIЧS P P AVG,
    Crowned and draped facing busts of Heraclius and Heraclius Constantine, each holding globus cruciger, cross between

    Reverse: -,
    Large M between A/N/N/O and ЧI/II (R.Y. 8), cross above, B below

    Exergue: ΘЄC

    Provenance: Ex. Savoca 5th Blue Auction, Lot 1622

    Reference: SBCV 824
  6. Inspector43

    Inspector43 72 Year Collector Supporter

  7. BenSi

    BenSi Supporter! Supporter

    Severl books I have read have mentioned the old copper mines in Cyprus making it a great place for a mint. In the 12th century Isaac Comnenus of Cyprus minted his coins there. He was not the Emperor but a Usurper who had gained control of the island from the Byzantine empire during Andronicus rule.

    OBV Christ Emmanuel, beardless and nimbate, wearing tunic and kolobion, seated upon throne with back; r hand raised in benediction holds scroll in l. Pellet in each limb of nimbus cross.

    REV Full length figure of emperor on l. crowned by virgin nimbate. Emperor wears stemma, divitision, collar piece, and jeweled loros of simplified type; holds in r hand scepter cruciger and in l. anexikakia. Virgin wears tunic and maphorion.

    Size 18.5/20mm

    Weight 4.2

    This issues in Cyprus have a small amount of silver in them 1.5% make them more related to the Metropolitan issue of the empire. This issue is heavier than normal, Isaac is wearing a sash at waist.

    DOC list 4 examples with a weight of 2.81 to 2.84 and sized at 19mm to 21mm

    Really a nice example, all detail is still there , some wear but beautiful example.

    As for other coins , there are several lesser seen Alexius tetartera that might have very well been minted there. The reason to suspect them from t is they are normally acquired from Cyprus dealers. Also the shortage of the metal was noted during the reign of Alexius I, so if the mines still had active veins they very well could have been minted and struck in Cyprus.


    OBV Full Length figure of Christ bearded and nimbate wearing tunic and kolobion; holds Gospels in l. hand.

    REV Full length figure of Emperor wearing stemma, divitision, and wearing jeweled loros of simplified type; holds in r hand labarum on long shaft and in l.

    Size 21.94

    Weight 3.6

    This coin and S-1934 I believe were minted in Cyprus, these coins were once very rare but recently they have been hitting the market much more frequently. Most of these offerings are coming from Cyprus dealers.

    This coin has a beautiful deep green Patina that hinders its photo. One of my nicest examples.

    DOC Lists 1 example not in their collection. Weight 2.44gm and size 18mm
  8. Herberto

    Herberto Well-Known Member

    Valentinian or other if you have knowledge, I have an issue.

    Are you sure that your coin was minted in the Byzantine Empire and not in the Rashidun Caliphate or Umayyad Caliphate?

    Do you think mine are Byzantines or Arabs?:

    Heraclius Sear 849hm.jpg

    after Constans II.jpg

    The first one is listed in David Sear as Sear reference nr 849 from Cyprus. But some have told me that this might be Arab minted.

    The latter one has even two crosses.

    Byzantine? Or Arab? I am not expecting an conclusive answer to this, but if you have a strong opinion I want it. Thanks.

    +VGO.DVCKS Well-Known Member

    The second one hits me as being likelier Arab-Byzantine, on the basis of the style of the obverse. Regarding the top one, from here, that's looking likelier, of the two, to be reducible to sloppy engraving and minting by Byzantines. An unofficial issue, within the confines of the empire, mmmMight be a third possibility....
    But, No, the first thing the second one says to me is 'substantive stylistic variation,' rather than mere crudity within an existing (Byzantine) stylistic canon.
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  10. Inspector43

    Inspector43 72 Year Collector Supporter

    Nice coins. Here is one I just started working on. It looks similar to these.
    Large Byzantine Combined.jpg
  11. +VGO.DVCKS

    +VGO.DVCKS Well-Known Member

    If you were wanting to do this yourself, it's like, wish I could give you a spoiler alert. In the absence of which, Sorry.
    ...Just not enough. This is a Class B anonymous follis, of Romanus III, 1028-1034, Sear (Byzantine) 1823. The link is to Wildwinds, a very user-friendly website for Byzantines, apart from serious rarities.
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2021
  12. Inspector43

    Inspector43 72 Year Collector Supporter

    No problem. I had an idea that it was Byzantine but no idea how to find it. I just started a batch of 20 uncleaned today. They are still crusty, but I think there are at least 2 more Byzantines in the batch. Thanks for the help.
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  13. +VGO.DVCKS

    +VGO.DVCKS Well-Known Member

    Thanks for that. And congratulations on your intrepitude in doing uncleaned coins! Those, and even group lots more generally, have always scared me. People like you have been helping a lot, just lately, toward opening my eyes to their potential.
  14. Inspector43

    Inspector43 72 Year Collector Supporter

    I have cleaned, identified and put up more than 100 in the last two years. That was my target. But, it is just like those potato chips, you can't stop.
    +VGO.DVCKS likes this.
  15. DiomedesofArgos

    DiomedesofArgos Well-Known Member

    Very cool. I don't have any Cyprus coins, but I did visit the island once. Amazingly warm water. Highly recommended.
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  16. +VGO.DVCKS

    +VGO.DVCKS Well-Known Member

    ...Oh, No, another addiction! All I need.... :<}
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  17. Valentinian

    Valentinian Supporter! Supporter

    That is always a question with these. I think mine, the OP coin, is official. The lettering is too good for an Arabic imitation. I think your first coin is likely Byzantine. The faces are good and the flan fabric is like the official pieces. The second coin is completely different. It is much more like a Constans II, many of which are rounder but with terrible strikes and in terrible condition. It is difficult to draw the line between official and unofficial Constans II types.


    Here is an example of Sear 1001 for Constans II. Note the nearly round flan, the uncial m and the single figure with two crosses, one long and the other a globus cruciger held in the hand. The are very many unofficial coins that look like types of Constans II. They are not easy to distinguish.
  18. Inspector43

    Inspector43 72 Year Collector Supporter

    My avatar is shown in Wildwinds as contributed by me. It is RIC VII Cyzicus 113. That furthered my addiction when Dane gave me recognition.
    Constantius II, AE follis, Cyzicus. AD 335-336.

    FL IVL CONSTANTIVS NOB C, laureate, draped and cuirassed bust right.
    GLOR-IA EXERC-ITVS, two soldiers holding spears and shields with two standards between them.
    Mintmark star SMKA.

    RIC VII Cyzicus 113 var (officina); notinric 7cyz113.
    Rated R4.

    Contributed by David Zachmeyer, Feb. 2020
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  19. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter Enrich the soldiers...ignore all others

    Interesting coin. I have never been to Cyprus but the island is keenly visible on flights from Europe to Cairo.
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  20. Quant.Geek

    Quant.Geek Well-Known Member

    There are numerous Arab-Byzantine variants of this type. Here is my original:


    and the imitations:



  21. Valentinian

    Valentinian Supporter! Supporter

    The flans of the first two have very similar manufacture which seems to be the way official flans were made. (The OP coin has that type of flan, too.) The other two have flans made some other way. The second coin has a blundered legend, but isn't that par for the course? There is no easy way to draw the line between "official" from "unofficial" coins of these types, but I'd be inclined to put both the first two on the official side.
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