The mintmarks of Antioch = Theopolis (= Theoupolis)
under the Byzantine emperor Justinian, 527-565 AD.


The variety of mintmarks for Antioch under Justinian is remarkable. There are at least eight very different mintmarks and several other minor varieties.

                                 What's new?  2018, June 29:  New illustrated list of mintmarks (right after the first coin).
                                                                                 Each mintmark image can be clicked to go to the whole coin in the text below.
                                                                                 Also, the font size was increased throughout.
                                 2018, May 2: An example of the "+THEUP+" mintmark, Sear 216.
                                 2017, Sept. 12: An ancient imitation of the first Theopolis type.
                                 August 28, 2017, greatly rearranged (to be chronological).  Sear 226, Sear 216 with a bent "M", and a second Sear 245 added. 

The first mintmark under Justinian was ANTIX, which resembles our spelling, Antioch, but with "X" at the end because it is really in Greek (and the "O" is arbitrarily omitted). Only the first year of Justinian's long reign continued the ANTIX mintmark commonly seen under Justin I. 

  ANTIX

 

Sear 213
29 mm. 14.42 grams.
Officina A
This ANTIX mintmark was used only
at the beginning of Justinian's
reign and not after the
earthquake of 528.

 

The Great Variety of Mintmarks for One City:  The mintmarks are listed and illustrated next. They are discussed and their coins illustrated following the tragic story of Antioch. Antioch was renamed "Theopolis" after the first year of Justinian's reign, so some mintmarks refer to Antioch and others to Theopolis.
Click the images to go to the coins. The mintmarks include:  

ANTIX   [Illustrated above. The rest follow in the text below]

A N/T X in two lines  ANTX     [Skip down to the images of the coins.]


+THEUP+   


THUP* 222


CHEUPo   bar over the CH.

T H/ E U/ O / P in four lines  Sear 225

θYΠOΛS   [The Greek version of Theopolis. Bar over the ΘΥ, as with the following varients.]

θ Y/Π O/Λ S in three lines mm5

θVΠO 


θV Sear 228

Π with a slash through it and o above, OPiand

ρ (a rho-like symbol) mm1

    If you want to skip the tragic story and just see illustrations of the coins, click here
 

The Tragic Story of Antioch.  Antioch was primarily a Greek-speaking city and the "X" of "ANTIX" is a Greek chi, which gives the "CH" sound in Antioch. But the mintmark ANTIX is rare under Justinian (but not rare earlier) and did not last long. The city had been the capital of Syria and one of the three major eastern cities of the empire (Constantinople, Antioch, and Alexandria), but on May 29 of 526 (about a year before the reign of Justinian began) an extremely violent earthquake hit which destroyed most of the buildings and the subsequent fire destroyed most of the rest. Reportedly 250,000 people died. Antioch never really recovered, nor did the disasters cease.
  On November 29 of 528, about two years later and a year after Justinian's reign began August 1, 527, Antioch was again hit by a powerful earthquake which killed another 5,000 of the already-reduced population. After this the remaining hopeful and fearful population renamed it "Theopolis" (less frequently spelled "Theoupolis"), the "City of God." Thereafter, coin mintmarks referenced the new name.
  Only a dozen years later, in 540, the Sasanian emperor Khusru I (Chosroes) sacked the somewhat restored city, burned all but the suburbs, and took captive those he did not manage to kill, eventually using the captives to populate a city, "Antioch of Khusru," which he founded on the Tigris a day's distance from Ctesiphon. Only a year later, in 541, Antioch, and much of the rest of the empire, was hit by a devastating plague which was so severe that at its height it killed thousands a day in Constantinople and which returned three more times in that generation. Not only was Antioch again devastated, but so was the whole empire. The history of Byzantine Antioch (Theopolis) ends in the next century in 637 when it was conquered by the Arabs.
    Justinian became emperor August 1, 527, about a year after the first earthquake and a year before the second. So, for about one year of his reign the coins had an "Antioch" mintmark and for the remaining 37 years the mintmarks abbreviated "Theopolis."


Coins While the City was Still Named "Antioch".  The half-follis (20-nummia) coins had the city name spelled on either side of a long cross.

ANTXJustinianSear 224A variety. (He notes only officina A and gamma, but this one is B.)
20-nummia
27-26 mm. 8.23 grams.
DN IVSTINI-ANVS PP AVG
A  N
T  X  across a long cross (does the cross serve as the "I"?)
The style of this piece is as good as most Byzantine coins of the period. It is from before the second earthquake.
BMC --, MIBE (Hahn) 132B. DO --.
MIBE 133 clearly has TI-X where this one has T-X. The DO example is poor with the supposed "I" invisible and may actually be this type.

 

Here is a second example:

ANTXANTXANTX
Sear 224A
20-nummia
27-23 mm. 7.17 grams.
A  N
T  X  across cross.
The quality of the obverse lettering is not as good as on the previous coin. 
Struck before the second earthquake of 528.
DN IVSTINIANVS PP AVG
MIBE (Hahn) 132, this coin.

 

 

The next two are irregular, blundered, full-sized folles intended to be like the first coin on this page.

 
ANTIX

  ANTIX

 

imitation

An imitation of Sear 213
40-nummia, 35 mm. (remarkably large -- at is broadest 5 mm larger than official coins), 14.99 grams,  (full weight for the type) 6:00 die axis.
ANTIX mintmark very clear.
The obverse legend is blundered, with S written retrograde
and legend that looks like
DIN ISTINIANOYS

The large size and full weight suggest this was made to supply a need for coinage, as opposed to illegal production for profit.

 

 

 


ANTIXANTIX
Justinian ANTIX

Another imitation of Sear 213, however with a cresent right.
40-nummia, 35-30 mm. (remarkably large) 15.30 grams,  (full weight for the type) 5:30 die axis.
ANTIX mintmark clear.
Officina gamma.
The obverse legend is blundered, with S written retrograde twice (and forward once)
and legend that looks like
DN IVSTINSVIS PP AVGS

 

 

This and the previous blundered coin suggest that the demand for coin dies could not be supplied by literate engravers at the mint. Maybe they were killed in or displaced by the first earthquake, although there are some coins of this type and the next that are of good style and spelled correctly (above). However, the heavy weights of these two do not suggest an attempt to profit by issuing lighter coins. I don't see how we can know, but I think these are official mint products from Antioch at a time of extreme stress.

There are 10-nummia pieces, but no 5- or 1- nummia pieces, with a variant of "Antioch" for a mintmark.

 


After the Second Earthquake. After the second earthquake Antioch was renamed "Theopolis"--  THEOUPOLIS. Mintmarks exhibit the new name. At first the profile bust is retained.


+THEUP+  



  Sear 216
  40-nummia.
  31-28 mm. 13.52 grams.
  Profile bust.
  +THEUP+ 
  Struck 529-531 [Hahn, MIBE 126. DO 210d]
  (That is, this profile bust .was discontinued in year 13,
   which began the facing bust series [below] at Antioch).

 

 

  +THEUP

Another Sear 216
31-30 mm. 11.68 grams. 6:00.
The reverse is odd for having a bent "M".
How can that be?  The usual explanation would be a sliding or double strike,
but the mintmark is clear and well-struck only once. 
If you collect Byzantine copper you must find enjoyment in such oddities,
because there is little beauty or perfection to be seen.

 

Another Sear 216, this one an imitation.
30-28 mm. 11.97 gra,s. 6:00.
The previous coin with the bent M nevertheless has obverse lettering that looks official. 
In contrast, this coin has a legend with a backwards "S" and incomplete name:
DN IVSTI[N?] ANV[no "S"] PP AV[G?]
The reverse is also crude, with the middle of the M oddly expended downward.
+THEUP+ with a small "o" above the P.

After two earthquakes the mint was having trouble. This example has the 6:00 die axis of official pieces, but does not look official. Is it a local imitation to provide coins that the mint did not, or is it an incompetent attempt to make an official coin by a stressed mint? 

[This coin had bronze disease and was completely stripped. Now it is toning back a bit.] 
 


After the name change the half-follis has "TH EU O P" instead of "AN TX" across the cross. 
 
Sear 225 

Sear 226
Profile bust
20-nummia
25 mm. 8.61 grams. 12:00
TH
  ΕU
     O [obscured] 
     P
Struck 529-531/2.


 

Here is another pre-reform type of the 40-nummia denomination. A new (and unique to Antioch) "enthroned facing" bust retains a Latin minkmark.

Sear 214 mintmark

 +THEUP
 

Sear 214Sear 214 

 Sear 214
 34-32 mm. 18.04 grams. 6:00
 +THEUP
  This type with Justinian
  enthroned facing occurs only
  at Antioch/Theopolis
  Struck 531/2-536/7 [Hahn]

 

 

 

This "enthroned facing" type appears also on the 20-nummia (half-follis) denomination with the city name across the cross.

Sear 225Sear 225Sear 225

   Sear 225
  20-nummia
  25 mm. 8.52 grams.
  TH
  ΕU
     O
     P [obscured]
  Struck 531/2-536/7  [Hahn]

 

 

Sear 225 mmSear 225
   Sear 225
   20-nummia
   24-23 mm. 9.04 grams. 12:00.
   Another, as above.
  TH
  ΕU
     O
     P [obscured]
  Struck 531/2-536/7  [Hahn] 

 

 


In Greek (and Antioch was a Greek-speaking city), Theopolis is spelled θEOYΠOΛIS, which is variously abbreviated on coins. 

In 536/7 the profile bust returned when the spelling switched to Greek.


θYΠOΛS (the line over the θY indicates an abbreviation)

 



  Sear 217.
  40-nummia.
  31-30 mm. 14.50 grams.
  Bust right.
  θYΠOΛS  (line over θY)
  This longer version is from before the coinage reform of 538/9
  which is distinguished by facing busts.
   Struck 536/7- 539 (to be replaced by the frontal bust)

 

 
 

The 20-nummia piece has its mintmark in Greek: θYΠOΛS is spelled across the cross, instead of the previous "AN TX" and "TH EU O P" Latin types. 

mm5Sear 227Sear 227  Sear 227
  20-nummia (much of the K is flat)
  24-22 mm. 6.32 grams.
  With a bar above:
  θY   (line above)
  ΠO
  ΛS.
  [The vertical stroke of the cross might serve as the "I" of "polis"]
  Struck 536/7-539. 

 

 

The Facing-Bust Coin Reform. The copper coins were reformed in year 12 (538/9). They were made larger and the profile bust was replaced with a facing bust. The new city name, "Theopolis" is abbreviated or spelled out in Greek (Antioch was primarily a Greek-speaking city) on the first folles. After this reform the coins were explicitly dated by regnal year. 
 

  "θVΠO" is close to spelling out Theoupolis.

 

  Sear 218B.
  40-nummia.
  39 mm, 20.77 grams. 
  Mintmark: θVΠO 
  on a large follis of year 13.

 

  
The reform which yielded this new, larger, coin started in year 12 at Constantinople but did not begin at Antioch until year 13 and no coins of Antioch were issued in years 14 or 15 (probably due to the invasion of Khusru mentioned above). The mintmark switched to Latin in year 16 (see the next coin). (There were no coins at Antioch in years 17, 18, or 19 either).  So, this short-version mintmark was used only in year 13 making this a one-year type.
 

Year 16 was different


 
CHEUPo, bar over the CH.
SB219


  Sear 219.
  40 nummia.
  38-37 mm. 16.81 grams. 6:00.
  Year VG = 16 = 542/3.
  Mintmark:  CHEUPo, bar over the CH.
  Hahn 1454a.
  DO I 216

 

This mintmark is only from year 16 and no coins with years 17, 18 or 19 were minted, for reasons unknown.
The metal of this piece is unusual and granular. The explanation for the fabric is not certain. It could be either an ancient or modern imitation. Another possibility, which I believe, is that the tribulations of the mint forced them to use an irregular metal source. The narrow "X" in the date is also seen on the DO and Hahn specimens from officina Gamma. On this issue the M is wide (leaving less room for the date) and the diagonal strokes of the M do not go to the top of the vertical strokes.

 

The reformed half-follis had the city-name abbreviated even more:

Sear 228 

   θV with a bar above

 

Sear 228Sear 228
  Sear 228
  20-nummia
  Year 13 (539/40)
  31 mm. 11.24 grams
  θV with a bar above
  This short abbreviation was used only on
  this denomination and only this year.
 

 


The above 20-nummia type and the following 40-nummia type, both of year 13, 539/40, were not issued in years 14 and 15 because of the interruption of the invasion of Khusru I mentioned above. They were also not issued in years 17, 18, or 19, but the reason for the second interruption is not known [Grierson, Byzantine Coins, page 66].
 

Some half-folles just indicated the "polis" part which apparently was deemed sufficient:


mm3Sear 230Sear 230  Sear 230
  20-nummia
  Year 26 (552/3)
   25 mm. 9.80 grams.
   Π with a slash and o above.
   This is an abbreviation of "polis".
   Is the slash like our apostrophe
   denoting omission of letters
   [as, for example, in "don't"]
   This mintmark was used only on this denomination and only years 20-29.




OPi
Sear 230Sear 230

  Sear 230
  20 nummia
  Year 21.
  27 mm. 9.41 grams. 10:30.
  As above: Π with a slash and o above.
  The obverse is struck with a decanummia-sized die,
  unlike the previous example where the obverse die is too large for the flan.

 

 


mm1 JJ  Sear 231
  20-nummia
  Year 30 (556/7)
  27-26 mm. 9.69 grams.
  A rho-like symbol
  for a mintmark
  [This is an abbreviation
  for "polis" in Latin
  the way the next one is in Greek.]
  This mintmark was used only on
  this denomination and only years 30-34.


 



Here is another varient of "Theopolis" in Latin:

222   THUP*

  222

  Sear 222 variety (officina E is unlisted for this year)
  40 nummia
  39-34 mm. Remarkably large flan. 17.84 grams. 6:00.
  Mintmark: THUP*
  Year XXXIII = 33 = 559/560
  This mintmark (sometimes without the terminal *) has been found from years 28 and 30-34.
  The flan is far larger than the beading, making the coin is unusually large for this late date.  The DO examples for this year are only 34mm and 32 mm.

 

 


The 10-nummia pieces have similar marks.

mm11Sear 239Sear 239
  Sear 239
  10-nummia
  19-18 mm. 4.65 grams.
  THEUP
  This mintmark was used years 35-38
  on the M and I denominations.

 

 

mm12Sear 236Sear 236  Sear 236
  10-nummia
  22-20 mm.
  first letter is a bit like a U,
  but the stroke on the right continues downward.
  it continues   HUΠ [slash]
  This mintmark was used years 20-24 on the
  M and I denominations.
  The final letter is a Π with a slash abbreviating "polis".
  The "H" could be the Greek eta (E).
 If the first letter were theta (which it does not look like), this would abbreviate "Theopolis".  This seems a mongrel mintmark to me.

 



Here is one more type of Justinian from Antioch, this one without a mintmark:

Sear 245
Sear 245
5-nummia
16-15 mm. 2.30 grams. 12:00.
Epsilon with the middle stroke expanded to a monogram of "IVSTINIANVS"
(Some have expanded the monogram to read "ANTIOXIA" for Antioch.)

 

 

Sear 245, a second example.
15 mm. 1.39 grams. 12:00

 


The Greek full name of the city was ANTIOXIA, ending in "IA" as is normal for proper nouns for cities (and like we have kept in the city name "Alexandria"). The omission of the "O" on the Byzantine coins is arbitrary. Under some much-earlier Roman emperors, such as Philip (244-249) this was spelled out in full:  ANTIOXIA:

A
P2P2

    Philip II, 244-249
   Tetradrachm of Antioch
   26-25 mm. 10.35 grams.
   Struck 249
   Legend in Greek
   Prier 467

 

 

The End (except for references below).

 


Return to the list illustrating the mintmarks.



References:  Sear, Byzantine Coins and Their Values, second edition, 1987, pages 70-75. [This is an excellent convenient list of types. It has little commentary.]

wikipedia under "526 Antioch earthquake"  [A very good source.]

Grierson, Byzantine Coins, 1982, especially pages 65-67. [This is the most useful reference about mintmarks on coins of Antioch.]

Hahn, W. Coins of the Incipient Byzantine Empire. [MIBE] volume 1. [A very well-illustrated complete list of types from Anastasius through Justinian.]

Bellinger, Catalog of the Byzantine Coins in the Dumbarton Oaks and Whittemore Collection, volume 1, 1966, pages 133-156 and plates XXXV-XL.  [This has coin descriptions and photos, but little useful commentary except on page 141 it lists the mintmarks on denominations and their dates.]
 


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