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Numismatics

ID number:  BIRBI-B0161
Object type:  Coin
Institution:  The Barber Institute of Fine Arts
Named collection:  P. D. Whitting Collection
Collector:  Whitting, Philip D.
Maker:  Justin I (518-527)
Denomination:  Solidus
Place made:  Mint of Constantinople
Culture:  Byzantine
Date made:  518-519
Metal:  Gold
Weight (g):  4.38
BIRBI-B0161.jpg

Description:  Obverse: Bust of Justin I wearing cuirass, paludamentum (military cloak), and plume topped helmet with diadem. Justin holds a spear in his right hand and a shield with a horseman spearing a fallen enemy device.
Reverse: Victory holding a Christogram topped staff. Star in left field.

When Anastasius I died there was no heir, so the Senate had to choose the new emperor. Eventually the commanding officer of the Incubators (imperial guard unit) was chosen. Justin I was a peasant from Illyria (modern Serbia). Justin is mostly remembered today for paving the way for the rise to power of his nephew Peter, the future Justinian I. On this coin Justin is shown in the traditional guise of soldier emperor (in his case an accurate representation). The reverse shows the mixture of pagan and Christian religious forms carried over from the reign of Anastasius I and present in one form or another since 420. 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 NVSPPAVC (Dominus Noster Justinus Perpetuus Augustus, Our Lord Justin Eternal Augustus)
Reverse: VICTORI AAVCCCΓ (Victoria Augustorum, Victory of the Augusti Officina [workshop] G)
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 1b
Grierson, P. Byzantine Coins (London 1982) 43-83.
Whitting, P.D. Byzantine Coins (London 1973) 99-106.

2 Related People

Justin I
Byzantine
c.450
1st August 527
Whitting, Philip David
British
1903
1988
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