0.176 oz. (5.2 g)
Gift of Brad Hostetler, 2022
Purchased by Brad Hostetler from Civitas Galleries (Middleton, Wisc.) on July 21, 2022.
The edge of the coin is chipped and has various scrapes and apparent chips along the outside. Although the integrity of the shape is maintained for the most part, there is a fragment missing at the upper edge of the coin. The depiction on the obverse is unaffected by this missing fragment. On the reverse, a portion of the letter on the left is missing. There are also signs of patina on both sides. The result of oxidation of the bronze, leaving a blue-green pigment on both sizes. On the obverse, the bottom right shows more signs of wear. The figure on the right is worn down and the details are blurred. The face is less distinctive and clear than the figure on the left. The wear on the bottom right side also affects the pattern that lines the edge of the indentation on the right side. On the reverse, in the bottom left, there are significant signs of wear. Parts of the letter at the bottom are completely worn away. - Park Penrod (’24), December 2022
Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings
Blundered inscription naming Heraclius
Center: IB = 12
Below: ΑΛΕΞ = Alexandria
Grierson, Philip. 1968. Catalogue of the Byzantine Coins in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection and in the Whittemore Collection, vol. 2, Phocas to Theodosius III, 602–717. Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, no. 189, pp. 334–335.
This dodecanummium of Heraclius and Heraclius Constantine is a copper, circular coin. On the obverse, Heraclius (left) is shown bearded, with his son Heraclius Constantine (right), who is beardless. Above them is a worn inscription that would have read “Lord Heraclius.” Both emperors are depicted wearing a chlamys, “a long cloak fastened on the right shoulder by means of a fibula so as to leave the right arm free” (Kazhdan and Ševčenko 1991). The depiction of them wearing the chlamys is significant. This costume was associated with other influential rulers who were chosen by God, such as David in his depiction on the contemporary silver plate with the Battle of David and Goliath at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (17.190.396). Heraclius and Heraclius Constantine are also depicted wearing a rounded crown with a cross at the top. Erwin Panofsky’s definition of iconography, “a description and classification of images… which informs us as to when and where specific themes were visualized by which specific motifs” provides us with a framework to understand the meaning of this motif in Byzantine culture (Panofsky 1955, p. 31). This part of their costume, the cross on the crown, conveys their belief that Christ will aid them in their battles against Persia (Franzius 2022). It communicates the idea that Heraclius’s reign was one predicated on the spread and victory of Christianity.
The reverse shows the letters “I” and “B” depicted with a cross between them above the two steps. The “IB” means twelve, indicating that this coin is a dodecanummium worth twelve nummi. With nine and a half dodecanummi, a person in Alexandria could purchase a pound of meat (Morrisson and Cheynet 2001, p. 842). At the bottom, the letters “AΛEΞ” are depicted, which stand for the city, Alexandria, the location where the coin was minted (Grierson 1968, p. 8).
Franzius, Enno. 2022. “Heraclius.” Encyclopedia Britannica. Accessed December 1, 2022. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Heraclius-Byzantine-emperor.
Grierson, Philip. 1968. Catalogue of the Byzantine Coins in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection and in the Whittemore Collection, vol. 2, Phocas to Theodosius III, 602–717. Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection.
Kazhdan, Alexander, and Nancy Patterson Ševčenko. 1991. “Chlamys.” In The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium, ed. Alexander P. Kazhdan. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Morrisson, Cécile, and Jean-Claude Cheynet. 2001. “Prices and Wages in the Byzantine World.” In The Economic History of Byzantium: From the Seventh Through the Fifteenth Century, ed. Angeliki E. Laiou, 815–878. Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection.
Panofsky, Erwin. 1955. “Iconography and Iconology: An Introduction to the Study of Renaissance Art.” In Meaning in the Visual Arts: Papers in and on Art History, 26–54. Woodstock, NY: The Overlook Press.
Park Penrod (’24) for ARHS 110 (Fall 2022)