(137) Constantine IV - AV solidus, A.D. 674-681, 4.42 g. (inv. 91.277).
Obverse: Helmeted and cuirassed bust of Constantine IV three-quarter r., holding spear behind head in r.; shield with attacking horseman at l. shoulder; D(OMINVS) N(OSTER) (CONST)AN(TIN)VS P(ERPETVVS AVGVSTVS): Our lord Constantine, perpetual Augustus.
Reverse: Cross potent on stepped base, with Heraclius on l. and Tiberius on r., each wearing chlamys, crown with cross, and holding globus cruciger in r.; VICTORIA AVGV(STI) E: Victory of the Augustus, officina mark E; in exergue, CONOB: gold of Constantinople.
Provenance: Hesperia Art, 1959.
Bibliography: W. Wroth, Catalogue of the Imperial Byzantine Coins in the British Museum (London 1908) 3; P. Grierson, Byzantine Coins (London 1982).

Constantine IV came to the throne after the murder of his father, Constans II, in A.D. 668 and ruled first in association with his brothers, Heraclius and Tiberius. In A.D. 681, however, after the birth of his son, Justinian, Constantine deprived his brothers of their imperial titles and had their noses cut off, an oriental custom indicating that they were no longer fit for office. Afterwards he ruled alone until his death in A.D. 685. The most significant event of the reign of Constantine IV was the Arab siege of Constantinople, which lasted from A.D. 674 until A.D. 678 and ended with the decisive defeat of the Arabs.

On this solidus, Constantine briefly revived the old armored portrait bust, which had for the most part been replaced by the portrait of the emperor wearing the chlamys (see no. 135). His use of the type in this period may have been an attempt to recall the great military emperors such as Justinian who had used the military type in the sixth century.

The reverse indicates that the coin dates from the period before the deposition of Constantine's brothers. Here he continues the dynastic tradition of his father's coins, which had depicted all three brothers, with the youngest two, Heraclius and Tiberius, on the reverse. Heraclius is identified as the elder by his height and position on the left. The legends of the coins of Constantine IV, as this coin demonstrates, are often so crude and abbreviated that they are illegible.


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