Located astride the shipping routes linking southern Asia Minor with the coasts of Syria and Palestine and Egypt, the island of Cyprus has always been regarded as a stepping stone of the cultural and economic communications interconnecting different areas of the eastern half of the Mediterranean. Politically this role has been first enhanced during the Hellenistic, Roman and then in the early medieval period when in the seventh century Cyprus acquired an important role as military Byzantine stronghold. Economically, the significance (...) of Cyprus in the passage from the late antiquity to the early middle ages benefitted from its essential role as hub along the eastern tax-spine through which Egypt fed Constantinople and along the long-distance trade-routes based upon the sea-movement of luxury goods. This multifunctional role of Cyprus as a bridge between different regions of the eastern Mediterranean can be further assessed through the analysis of the numismatic material. Here, indeed, the study of the coins and coinage yielded by the archaeological excavations in urban centres like Salamis-Constantia, Paphos-Saranda Kolones, and Kourion should be paired with both the reassessment of the publication of the old Cypriot hoards and stray finds and the recent studies on the so-called Arab-Byzantine coinage found both in Cyprus and in the closer Syria-Palestine region. The examination of this material allows to develop a different interpretative scheme than the one traditionally adopted to interpret the fate of Cyprus after the Muslim raids and the occupation of Syria and Palestine. Cyprus and its cities were still frequented in the passage from late antiquity to the early middle ages, preserving a variable but still traceable degree of monetary economy including Byzantine emissions and Arab specimens, inferring the maintenance of political, commercial and cultural relations between the Byzantine Empire and the Umayyad Caliphate. (shrink)
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