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Byzantine coin of Heraclius, 610-641. Obverse: cross potent above two steps; to left and right, inscriptions are illegible. Reverse: large ‘S’.

History Of Use

“6 nummi” (denomination); DO# 198; Sear# 862.

This type of coin, the follis, is a large bronze coin that was introduced by the Emperor Anastasius in 498, marking a large departure from the Roman system of coinage inherited by the Byzantine Empire. It was the model for bronze Byzantine coinage for 200 years, facilitating small-scale trade and commerce. Originally, the basic follis in Constantinople was a heavy coin worth 40 nummia, with smaller follis parts equaling 20, 10, or 5 nummia. When the coin was debased and made lighter the value of it would decrease. Each provincial mints had their own divisions. In Alexandria the mint continuously produced follis parts worth 12, 6, and 3 nummia, until the province was lost to the Arab conquests. The 6 nummia coin was only circulated within Egypt, and made up a minor part of the local currency.

Iconographic Meaning

The Christian cross on the obverse of the coin was introduced to Byzantine coinage in the 5th century. It emphasized the Christian nature of both the emperor and the empire.

Item History

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