Byzantion and Mithridates VI Eupator Revisited
Keywords:Mithridatic wars, Byzantion, Coinage, Political relations
In a recent evaluation of the numismatic evidence Francois de Callataÿ re-established Byzantion as an important mint that has actively served Mithridates VI to pay the arrears of disbanded Thracian mercenaries on the eve of the Treaty of Dardanos (early autumn of 85 BC). A closer study of the extant textual and numismatic sources might prove unfavourable to this view. Late in 86 BC the Thracian Aegean coast as far as Byzantion has been won over by the troops of the consul Flaccus, and since then was firmly under Roman control. Subsequently Mithradates was cornered by Flaccus’ successor Fimbria in Aeolis and could hardly have been in position to order and transfer large sums of coined money even from its nearest mint in Pergamon. Notably, Byzantine overstrikes are issued only after Sulla and Eupator met at Dardanos. Alternatively, Byzantion is introduced here as a Roman agent (probably operating along Maroneia and other Thracian mints?) to convert some quantity of Pontic silver into “pro-Roman” currency as part of the indemnity (between 2000 and 3000 talents) that Sulla exacted from the Pontic king in return of his friendship and peace.