Introduction - Historical Background
In this section

The island of Cyprus, situated at the eastern end of the Mediterranean, has always been a significant crossroads of cultural interchange between East and West. Elements of the history of the island in the sixth and fifth centuries are preserved by ancient historians and other sources including archaeological finds, inscriptions and coins.

It is this last category of evidence, the coins, that is presented on this website.

At the beginning of the fifth century BC Cyprus formed part of the fifth satrapy of the Persian Empire, along with Phoenicia, Syria and Palestine. The satrapy paid an annual tribute of 350 talents to the King of Persia and provided him with naval contingents when required (Herodotus, III, 91). In the middle of the fourth century BC there were nine Cypriote cities, according to the historian Diodorus :

In this island there were nine cities of note, each of them with small communities subservient to them, and each with a king who ruled the city while being subject to the Persian king.
Diodorus, XVI, 42, 4

[Pseudo-] Scylax mentions the names of cities in Cyprus in his Periplus :

Opposite Cilicia lies the island of Cyprus, containing the following cities: Salamis, a Greek city with a harbour that can be closed in winter; Karpeseia, Kerynia, Lapethus (a Phoenician city), Soloi (this city too has a winter harbour), Marion (a Greek city), Amathus (whose citizens are autochthonous); all these have deserted harbours. There are also other cities in the interior of the island, occupied by non-Greek people.
Periplus (ch.103)

The kingdoms

Coins have been attributed with certainty to the kingdoms of Salamis, Kition, Amathous, Paphos, Marion, Soloi and Lapethos, while several uncertain issues might have been minted by Kyrenia and Kourion.

The names of other city-kingdoms also appear in the sources, but by the time of Diodorus' citation some of them had been absorbed by others (as Idalion had been by Kition) or even sold to others (as Tamassos to Kition).

The kingdoms of Cyprus were composed of different ethnic groups, according to our sources, and we find on the coins inscriptions in Cypriot-Syllabic script (the local script), in Phoenician and in Greek.

In the fourth century, after the battle of Issus in 333, the Cypriotes became part of Alexander the Great's possessions. After his death the island formed a battleground between his successors (mainly Antigonus and Ptolemy), each with the support of different kingdoms.

Ptolemy finally conquered the island in 294, having abolished the Cypriote kingdoms between 312 and 310/9.