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by Archaeology Newsroom

The first Cypriot coins

Autonomous Cypriot coins have been struck since the end of the Vl th century when the island was under Persian rule However, this do not prevent nine or ten city-states from striking their own coinage. We do not know if all the cities struck coins because it is not easy to identify the mints. The short, worn and obliterated inscriptions in the Cypriot syllabary in Phoenician and later in the Greek alphabet are sometimes quite enigmatic. In the fifth century only the mints of Lapethos and Marion are clearly identified by their inscriptions. Philological texts, coin types and the find place of coins can also provide information on the mints. The precise chronology of the fifth century Cypriot coins is another problem. Hoards found outside Cyprus which contain not only Cypriot but also better known Greek coins provide a date ante quern for the Cypriot coins, as do the dated foreign coins overstruck by Cypriot ones. Coins from one Cypriot mint overstruck by coins from another Cypriot mint attest their relative chronology. The coin types of the principal mints of the fifth century are discussed, followed by those of the fourth century, when new types appear in several mints that are more influenced by Greek style and subjects. in some mints during the fourth century the Persian metric standard is no longer used but the Rhodian one takes it places. Gold and later bronze coins are struck during the fourth century in addition to silver ones and for some inscriptions the Greek alphabet is used together with the Cypriot syllabary or instead of it. The autonomous coinage is interrupted during the life time of Alexander the Great and came to an end when the Cypriot kingships were abolished by Ptolemy I in 312-310. Thereafter the coins struck in Cyprus no longer keep their own types but those of their foreign rulers. Only the mint symbol distinguishes them from those struck in other mints of the Empire.