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a couple of Heraclii from the mysterious Syrian mint


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After another harrowing experience with priority mail, some interesting coins arrived. I'll have to check them for subtle damage.  I wish I could contact the dealer to ask not to send via priority, but vcoins' contact is not working, again.  Priority mail is just a great way to end up with a bent or run over package.

I am completely content with the merchandise and service, respectively, of the dealer. I'd just like to get word to him to ask him to send it not priority, via a padded envelope.  It appears that my previous message didn't get through.

Anyway, on to the coins.  My priority mail frustration took the wind out of my sails and I don't feel like typing much now.

Anyway, the S. 805-esque one is a match to the EBCC type.  I don't know about the officina, the EBCC pictures are too tiny and there's no description.

I believe that both the S 805 and 804-like coins are from the mysterious and little-known Syrian mint operating during the Sasanian war.  Assuming that the years are actual years, EBCC mentions that it operated 'every year' until 627/8. 

I had intended to order other coins.  The single bust one had been on my radar before.  I noticed the two standing figure type while composing the order.


26mm, 11.12 g.  Year 13, B officina.  Mintmark ocNKo. match to EBCC type from the Syrian mint.


I cannot find this type in EBCC.  Year 12, E officina.  28mm, 10.84g.

The mintmark is no clearer in person than it is on the photo.  It sems to be OM and two or three letters follow it?

The other coins in this order:

The Phocas 20 nummia was chosen for its fine style,as was the Justinian follis from antioch.


S 216, 30mm., 15.06g.  gamma officina.  +THEUB+ mintmark.  VF by wear with flat spots.






23mm., 5.94g.

I read somewhere in EBCC (the 2016 edition?) that the mint is though to have been at Emesa.  Types imitating Phocas/Leontia and Justin II/Sophia respectively, are listed, as well as a smattering of single Phocas and Maurice bust types.  Antioch and Nikomedia are the most used mintmarks.

This brings up some questions, why would the Persian authorities allow current types to be minted?  The occupation issues from Alexandria feature a Persian bust.  Could some of these be from Heraclius' field mint?


Edited by Nerosmyfavorite68
made first paragraph more succinct
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I'm feeling much more mellowed out after my ..disappointment at finding a u-shaped package with a tire mark.  Not being able to contact the dealer is double-frustrating. The vcoins contact picture is still there but I don't feel like editing again.

Has anyone seen anything similar to my single bust Heraclius? Arab-Byzantine doesn't make much sense.  Why would they go back to a long-abandoned weight standard?  Even year 13 is kind of weird. The products of Constantinople were smaller by then. The single-bust obverse looks like it might have been HERACLIOSTAV

I rarely buy fractions, but the Phocas portrait just really stood out to me.

The S 216 is one of the few profile folles which I actively collect. I had always wanted one, but it's surprisingly hard to find a good one.

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5 hours ago, Nerosmyfavorite68 said:

This brings up some questions, why would the Persian authorities allow current types to be minted?  The occupation issues from Alexandria feature a Persian bust.  Could some of these be from Heraclius' field mint?

Clive Foss summarizes as follows (pp. 158-159 at following link): https://www.jstor.org/stable/25188360

"Taxes imply coinage, and there is little doubt that Syria had an active money economy when the Persians arrived. Bronze coins, suitable for small scale commerce, were struck in Antioch regularly until 610, while gold solidi, struck in the capital, were used for larger transactions. Silver coinage was not normally issued. Byzantine gold remained in circulation during the Persian occupation, for hoards buried in Syria after the Arab conquest frequently contain solidi of Heraclius struck during these years. Likewise, the bulk of the bronze coinage used in Syria, at least until 616, was apparently provided by issues of Constantinople, which are also found in substantial numbers. Syria also produced its own bronze coins, which have only recently been discovered and analysed. They bear the images of Justin II, Maurice, Focas and Heraclius, with inscriptions that are usually garbled, and mintmarks of Constantinople, Nicomedia and Antioch, also usually misspelled or written backward. Study of the dies of these coins shows conclusively that they all belong to one series, and that, even though the images and mintmarks are arbitrary, the system of dating is consistent and realistic. The coins are dated to years 1 to 21, which corresponds exactly to the period of the occupation. In this case, the Persian authorities, or perhaps a local mint working under them, issued coins that would be acceptable to the local population because they bore familiar imperial types. While these coins were struck in small quantities, their existence, together with the continued circulation of Byzantine gold and copper indicates a continuing money economy and, by implication, a vital economic life."

In a footnote, Foss alludes to a forthcoming study of this coinage by Pottier. I haven't had nearly enough coffee this evening to navigate French but Pottier's article can be found here: https://www.persee.fr/doc/numi_0484-8942_2010_num_6_166_2946

[edit] I intended to post this on the other thread. It can be confusing to have multiple contemporaneous threads on the same topic by the same author.

Edited by DLTcoins
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Thank you for the information.  Is this Pottier article the Pottier work which EBCC alludes to?

It does beg the question, what did Heraclius use for army pay after they departed from Seleucia?  Most maps show 620's Persia as having more or less the boundaries of Persia, 340 BC, with the exception of Pontus and southern Anatolia.  Supply lines to Constantinople would have been pretty difficult.

The other discussion was meant to be a pre-discussion until the coins showed up.  However, if someone slapped this title on the other one and merged them, I would be amenable to that.

I looked through most of the vcoins' search results of 'Arab Byzantine'.  I didn't notice any obvious candidates for the Syrian mint.  One or two might have been EBCC's Year 20 mint.


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I doubt there's many out there, but feel free to post any coins from the Syrian mint, which operated from the 610's to 628.

Here's EBCC, which lists them.


The 2016 and 2019 editions seem to be pretty different.  2016 has better text, but 2019 is better laid out.  Be prepared to hand save each chapter.

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Here's my example from the Syrian occupation, which is overstruck on a follis of Anastasius:


I corresponded with the author of EBCC about this coin and he agreed with me that it is most likely from Pottier's AA series, or else from the mint Pottier calls "barbarous." It's very unusual in having used the old Anastasius follis as a flan.  I need to do more work on this!

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Great coins! That profile bust Justinian from Antioch is one of my favorite coins in the whole Byzantine series. The portraits are consistently well executed, some times to a startling degree when compared to all other coins of the period. I suspect the influence of one very experienced die maker since they all have such a distinctive style. Perhaps as some of the first coins minted after the great earthquake, there was an attempt to hearken back to the glory days of Roman coin portraiture in order to bring legitimacy and pride to the newly rebuilt city of Theupolis.

As for those unusual Heraclian coins, what a find! The fact they are minted at a full weight would also support your theory that they were being used for small change at a military mint. I would love to know more about the mysteries they no doubt contain.

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