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ID number:  BIRBI-B1557
Object type:  Coin
Institution:  The Barber Institute of Fine Arts
Named collection:  G. Haines Collection
Collector:  Haines, Geoffrey
Maker:  Justin II (565-578)
Denomination:  Half Follis
Place made:  Mint of Carthage
Culture:  Byzantine
Date made:  574-575
Metal:  Copper
Weight (g):  6.79

Description:  Obverse: Justin II, left, and Sophia, right, enthroned, cross between their heads.
Reverse: K (mark of value, 20 nummi), Two Victories holding a shield with a star device between them, cross above.

Justinian I nominated Justin as his successor. Justin was not only the nephew of Justinian, but was also married to Sophia, the niece of Empress Theodora. The reign of Justin II saw the empire at war on almost every front. In 568 the Lombards invaded Byzantine Italy and in just a few years had conquered much of the country. Justin refused to pay tribute to the Avars and Persians, which sparked a war with these two powers. Justin II became insane and in 574 nominated Tiberius, Count of the Excubitors as Caesar and retired from public life. When Justin died in 578 Tiberius succeeded him as Augustus. In this coin Sophia was not only shown on the obverse, but also included in the inscription. While this points to her particular position within the imperial government it should be remembered, that unlike her image, which appeared on gold coins, her name only ever appeared on lower value, less prestigious coins.

Inscriptions:  Obverse: DNIVSTINOETSOFIEAC (Our Lord Justin and Sophie Augustus), VITA (Life) beneath.
Reverse: K (mark of value) NM (nummi) beneath.

Bibliography:  Bellinger, A.R. Catalogue of the Byzantine Coins in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection and in the Whittemore Collection (Washington D.C. 1966) coin 203
Grierson, P. Byzantine Coins (London 1982) 43-83.
Whitting, P.D. Byzantine Coins (London 1973) 111-112.

2 Related People

Haines, Geoffrey Colton
Justin II
October 578
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