Melih Arslan

Keywords: Trapezus, Coin, Trabzon


Trapezus (modern Trabzon) was the most important port of the Pontus region in ancient times as it is today. The city, which was founded by emigrants from Sinope of Paphlagonia in the 8th century BC, began to strike coins in the 4th century BC. The first coins were struck from silver in two sizes in the Persian standard. The two known types from this period bear the head of a bearded man (Hermes?) on obverses and grapes on a table on reverses. The ethnicon TPA appears between the legs of the table. Then the mint activity stops until the Roman imperial period. It is possible to observe the coins in Trapezus from the time of Trajan (AD 98-117) to the reign of Philip II (AD 247-249). During the imperial period the city stuck bronze coins for 15 emperors and 6 empresses. The Mithras representations dominate the reverses in Trapezus. The ethnicon is inscribed as TPAIIEZOYNTION Furthermore the quasi-autonomous coins of this city bear date marks depending on the city era of 63 AD, which enable us to date the coins quite precisely. The cult of Mithras was introdued to the Pontus region by the Persians in the 5th century BC. It became a widely followed cult during the time of the Hellenistic Pontus Kings as the cult of Men. The reverses of the great majority of the coins of Trapezus picture Mithras as a rider but the deity was also represented with his radiate bust wearing the Phrygian hat on some coins. Other types are as follows: Athena; Hades-Serapis; Dionysos; Hennes; Serapis; Nemesis; Tyche; Zeus laurel wreath. Despite the considerable number of issues coming from Trapezus the reverse types are mostly a couple different representations of Mithras, thc chief deity of this city. This paper deals with two early silver issues and 83 Roman imperial bronzes, 46 of which are in the collection of Bibliotheque nationale de France, 5 coins from the İstanbul Archaelogy Museum, 27 coins from the Trabzon Museum and finally 5 coins from the Anatolian Civilizations Museum. This paper brings together the largest collection of the coins of Trapezus ever published.