The coins


The coins minted in Elaiussa range from the Ist cent. BC to the IIIrd cent. AD. A few silver coins date to the times of Seleucus VI; then coinage is represented by civic bronze, whose main types are Zeus / Nike and Tyche / Hermes, by coins in the name of Antiochos IV of Commagene, and of Greek imperials, bearing the Roman emperors’ portrait on Obv./ and local types on Rev./.


The mint of Elaiussa seems to have started its operations at the beginning of the Ist cent. BC, when silver tetradrachms in the name of Seleucus VI with the ruler’s head on Obv./ and a female deity, probably Aphrodite Euploia, on Rev./. Silver autonomous tetradrachmes of the same period show the same type on Rev./ and a turreted head of Tyche on Obv./. The legend ELAIOUSIWN THS IERAS KAI AUTONOMOU reminds the autonomy of the city.

The issues are from then on made of bronze only, with the types of Zeus, Tyche, Athena’s heads on Obv./, and Nike, Hermes, Aphrodite on Rev./. when Archealos of Cappadocia receives Elaiussa from Augustus, he changes its name into Sebaste and the new name relaces the old in coin legends. Tyche, Athena, Nike continue to be represented on coins, along with new types (kerykeio, dolphin, club).

Between the death of Archelaos and the time when Elaiussa becomes a part of Antiochos IV of Commagene’s possessions there seems to be a gap in the monetary issues. These start again in AD 38, in the name of Antiochos and of his wife Iotape. On Obv. the coins bear the king’s portrait, while on Rev./ Apollo, Tyche or Iotape are represented.

At Antiochos’ death, the issues have a new stop, and they are resumed at the times of the Antonines, continuing till the reign of Valerianus: the coins now bear the Roman emperor’s portrait on Obv./ and various deities on Rev. ( Tyche, Athena, Zeus, Dionysos, Asklepios, Serapis, Herakles) and they bear legends recalling the attributes of the city (MHTROPOLIS, IERA, ASULOS, AUTONOMOS, ELEUQERA, NAUARCIS, PARALIOS).


The excavations in Elaiussa have so far yielded about 2500 coins. The issues of early Hellenistic times are represented by a small number of sporadic coins coming mainly from the island. The greatest number of coins dating to the Ist cent. BC is made of bronzes of the mint of Elaiussa and neighbouring cities (Korykos, Seleukeia on the Kalykadnos, Aigeai, Tarsos). The same circulation pattern is shown by the Greek imperials.

Roman coins seem to reach the town around the middle of the IIIrd cent. AD, with antoniani and bronze denominations mainly from Eastern imperial mints; the number of Roman coins progressively increases towards the end of IV and the beginnings of V cent. AD, when bronze small change is widespread.

Byzantine coins cover the period to the reign of Heraclius (610-614 AD), when the site is partially abandoned.

Then, coin circulation becomes sporadic, with a few later Byzantine (Leo V Armenian, 813-820 AD) and medieval coins (Armenian reign of Cilicia, XIII-XIV cent. AD).

A hoard of around a thousand small late Roman and early Byzantine fractions, buried soon after the half of the VI cent. AD, comes from a cistern to the south of the theatre. Another hoard mostly made of folles of Phocas, Heraclius and Constantius II has recently been found in the dwelling area of the island.