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ID number:  BIRBI-B1198
Object type:  Coin
Institution:  The Barber Institute of Fine Arts
Named collection:  P. D. Whitting Collection
Collector:  Whitting, Philip D.
Maker:  Justin II (565-578)
Denomination:  Semissis
Place made:  Mint of Constantinople
Culture:  Byzantine
Date made:  565-578
Metal:  Gold
Weight (g):  2.16

Description:  Obverse. Bust of Justin II wearing cuirass, paludamentum (military cloak) and diadem.
Reverse. Victory seated on a trophy of arms, inscribing a shield. Reverseersed Christogram in right field.

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. Originally the shield held by Victory would have been inscribed XXXX, relating to the length of the emperors reign. After the death of Theodosius II in 450, the length of his reign XXXX became the standard numeral used on the semissis, irrespective of the actual length of the reign. The plural Augustorum is a relic of the fourth and fifth centuries when there were multiple emperors. Originally the number of C’s indicated the number of emperors.

Inscriptions:  Obverse. DNIVSTI NVSPPAVI (Our Lord Justin Eternal Augustus)
Reverse. VICTORI AAVCCC (Victory of the Augusti) CONOB (CON=Mint mark of Constantinople, OB=obrizum, refined gold) in exergue.

Bibliography:  Bellinger, A.R. Catalogue of the Byzantine Coins in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection and in the Whittemore Collection (Washington D.C. 1966) coin 12
Grierson, P. Byzantine Coins (London 1982) 43-83.
Whitting, P.D. Byzantine Coins (London 1973) 111-112.

2 Related People

Justin II
October 578
Whitting, Philip David
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