Cypriot Coins: (Archaic & Classical I)



Coins were invented in Lydia around the late 7th- early 6th Century BCE.  Cyrus the Great of Persia conquered Lydia in the 540s BCE and continued to issue their coins.

King Evelthon of Salamis (ruled c560-525) first issued silver coins in Cyprus in the later 6th century (perhaps around 530 BC), using the Lydian weights. Cyprus accepted Persian rule shortly before Cambyses invaded Egypt in 525. Persia did not issue its own silver and gold coinage until around 520-500, in the reign of Darius, with the silver Siglos at half the weight of Lydian coins.

Paphos followed Salamis later in the 6th century, followed by Kition, Idalion and Lapethos around 500 BCE, followed probably by Kourion and then Amathus, and later Marion at the turn of the next century. Other kingdoms might have issued some of the coins of unknown mint. All adhered to an 11gm standard Siglos through the late 6th and 5th century. Gold coins were not issued in Cyprus till King Evagoras at the start of the 4th century who was also the first to include Greek letters on his coins, rather than only the Cypriot Syllabary (or Phoenician in Kition). Soloi issued gold coins nearly a century later.

By far the largest number of coins were issued by Salamis, Paphos and Kition in that order. Subdivisions when they occurred were 1/3rd, 1/6th, 1/12th and occasionally 1/24th