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Byzantine Coins Found during the Excavations at Perge

Oğuz Tekin, Istanbul University, Summer Fellow 2006

The ancient city of Perge in Pamphylia is situated approximately fifteen kilometers to the east of Antalya. Excavations and surveys at Perge first began in 1946 and, except for some short interruptions, have continued up to the present day. The total number of coins found in the 60 year excavation period is about 3000, approximately one-third of them Byzantine. Since much of the excavated area is Roman and early Byzantine in date, so the majority of coins found are naturally Roman and Early Byzantine.

As a summer fellow, I carried out library research at Dumbarton Oaks, using primarily the volumes of the Catalogue of the Byzantine Coins in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection and in the Whittemore Collection, as well as the catalogue of Byzantine coins in the Bibliothèque Nationale. I was able to make identifications of some problematic coins and complete the most important part of my catalogue. As a result of my research, some conclusions can be formulated about the Byzantine coins found at Perge. All the Byzantine coins from Perge (about 1000) are bronze, and most of them are folles. No gold and silver Byzantine coins were found. The major mints for Perge are Constantinople and Antioch. Most of the Byzantine coins found during the excavations are dated between the early sixh century AD and the first quarter of the seventh century AD, i.e., covering a total period of one hundred years. So they extend from the reign of Justin Ⅰ (518–527) to Heraclius (610–641) without interruption. After a long break, coins start to reappear from the tenth century, i.e., anonymous folles (mostly classes A2, B, C, and D). Thus, the Byzantine coins found at Perge form two separate chronological groups; the first group of coins belongs to the successive reigns of seven Byzantine emperors: Justin Ⅰ, Justinian Ⅰ, Justin Ⅱ, Tiberius Ⅱ, Maurice Tiberius, Phocas, and Heraclius. The second group of coins belongs to the tenth–eleventh centuries (anonymous folles). So there is a period of nearly 300 years for which no Byzantine coins were found in the excavations. One may thus conclude that there was no circulation of Byzantine coins in the region between the second half of the seventh century and the tenth century.