(130) Anastasius I - AV solidus, A.D. 491-518, 4.43 g. (inv. 91.268).
Obverse: Helmeted and cuirassed bust of Anastasius three-quarter r., holding spear behind head in r.; shield with attacking horseman at l. shoulder; D(OMINVS) N(OSTER) ANASTASIVS P(ER)P(ETVVS) AVC(VSTVS): Our lord Anastasius, perpetual Augustus.
Reverse: Victoria standing l., holding long cross in r.; star in r. field; VICTORIA AVCCC (AVGVSTORVM abbreviated) N: Victory of the Augusti, officina mark N; CONOB in exergue: gold of Constantinople.
Provenance: Coin Galleries, 1959.
Bibliography: P. Grierson, Byzantine Coins (London 1982).

In A.D. 491, after the death of the emperor Zeno, the empress Ariadne put the relatively unknown court official Anastasius on the throne. He is best known for his reform of the copper of the old Roman monetary system, and for this reason his coins are the first to be considered truly Byzantine.

In contrast to the typical profile portraits of the emperor on the obverses of coins in the western Roman empire, the Byzantines preferred facing busts. This coin depicts the military type, with the emperor wearing a cuirass and helmet, carrying a spear over his right shoulder and a shield at his left depicting a horseman in battle. The portrait also differs from typical Western portraits in the extreme simplification of the facial features, with emphasis upon the large eyes.

The reverse of this coin is one of the last to use partly pagan and partly Christian imagery. The winged Victoria is a standard type in earlier Roman coins, but the Victoria on this coin holds a staff with the Christogram, the monogram of Christ or Xristow in Greek. On this coin the monogram consists of a cross with a loop at the top forming the Greek letter rho (). The legend on the reverse is abbreviated in the manner of coins of the late fourth and early fifth centuries, in which the number of C's (G in this period takes the form of C) corresponded to the number of emperors ruling together. In this period there is usually only a single emperor, but the abbreviation of the plural Augustorum persists. The term CONOB in the exergue combines CON as an abbreviation for Constantinople with OB, an abbreviation for obryzum, the technical term for gold.


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