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ID number:  BIRBI-B1552
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:  Half Follis
Place made:  Mint of Carthage
Culture:  Byzantine
Date made:  572-573
Metal:  Copper
Weight (g):  40.52

Description:  Obverse: Bust of Justin II wearing helmet with pendilia and cuirass and bust of Sophia wearing crown with pendilia.
Reverse: K (mark of value, 20 nummi) 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, DNIVSTINOETSOFIAAC in full. 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. Carthage at this time was the capital of Byzantine Africa.

Inscriptions:  Obverse: DNIVSTINO[…] (Our Lord Justin)
Reverse: K (mark of value) S (officina [workshop] S) beneath, ANNO to left, VIII to right (regnal year) with cross above, KAR (mint mark of Carthage) 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 199
Grierson, P. Byzantine Coins (London 1982) 43-83.
Whitting, P.D. Byzantine Coins (London 1973) 111-112.

2 Related People

Whitting, Philip David
Justin II
October 578
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