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ID number:  BIRBI-B1586
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:  Solidus
Place made:  Mint of Ravenna
Culture:  Byzantine
Date made:  565-578
Metal:  Gold
Weight (g):  4.50

Description:  Obverse: Bust of Justin II, wearing cuirass, and plume topped helmet and diadem with trefoil ornament. Justin holds a globe surmounted by Victory in his right hand and a shield with a horseman device in his left. Victory is crowning Justin with a wreath.
Reverse: Constantinopolis, enthroned, wearing tunic, aegis and helmet. Constantinopolis holds a spear in her right hand and a globus cruciger in her left hand.

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. Justin II replaced much of the Christian imagery imported by Justin I and Justinian I onto the coinage with more classical types. On the obverse of the coin the globe held by Justin II is topped not by a cross but by Victory. The angel holding a cross image, used by Justin I and Justinian II for the reverse of their coins was replaced with the personification of Constantinople, although holding a globus cruciger. 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. Ravenna at this time was the capital of Byzantine Italy.

Inscriptions:  Obverse: DNIVSTI NVSPPAVC (Our Lord Justin Eternal Augustus)
Reverse: VICTORI AAVCCCZ (Victory of the Augusti, officina [workshop]Z) 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 210
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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