Nicomedia (İzmit, Turkey)
0.416 oz (11.8 g)
Gift of Brad Hostetler, 2022
Purchased by Brad Hostetler from David Wood (Milford, Penn.) on July 16, 2022. Purchased by Wood in 1985.
The Follis of Maurice has very rough and jagged edges, similar to the edges on a bottle cap. On the obverse, the inscription is worn away from the 8 o’clock to the 12 o’clock positions. There is also a mark on the obverse which impedes the inscription at around 3 o’clock. On the reverse, the coin is worn on the exterior, although all of the symbols and phrases are able to be identified. Besides the wear and jaggedness of the coin, there are no missing components. - Kyle Dwyer (’23), December 2022
Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings
Center: M = 40
Left & Right of M: ANNO Ϛ = Year 6
Below the M: NIKO = Nikomedia
Below the M: B
Bellinger, Alfred R. 1966. Catalogue of the Byzantine Coins in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection and in the Whittemore Collection, vol. 1, Anastasius I to Maurice, 491–602. Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, no. 96b, p. 325.
This Byzantine coin of Emperor Maurice Tiberius is a copper follis. On the obverse is a bust of the emperor, wearing a cuirass and a crown with a cross on top of it. In his left hand, Maurice holds a shield, while in the right hand, he holds a globus cruciger (Bellinger 1966, p. 323). The partial inscription on the obverse includes Maurice’s name.
The reverse provides more information on the coin itself. The “M” in the middle indicates that the coin was worth 40 nummi. The inscription below the “M”, “NIKO”, or Nicomdedia, represents the mint location of the coin. The “B”, located within the M, indicates that the coin was minted in Nicomedia’s workshop B. The letters to the left and right of the M tell us that the coin was minted in the sixth year of Maurice’s rule, which would have been during 587/8 CE. The copper follis was most often used by those in the lower class. The follis’s value compared to the gold solidus is 1:288 (Grierson 1999, p. 43). In the late 6th century, one donkey would cost 3 gold solidi, which is equivalent to 864 folles (Morrisson and Cheynet 2001, p. 840).
The imagery on the obverse conveys the character of Maurice. The globus cruciger, held in his right hand, represents his direct connection to God. This symbol, in conjunction with the shield and body armor, tell people that he possesses power via religion, as well as through his military strength.
At first glance Maurice’s portrait may look somewhat different than that on the follis of his predecessor, Tiberius II, but upon closer inspection both coins possess the same inherent quality of combining religious and military symbolism (Bellinger 1966, p. 278). With the follis being a commonly used coin amongst the lower classes, both emperors wanted to present an image of power to the Byzantine people. As argued by Michael Yonan, materiality needs to be central to our analysis of an object (Yonan 2019). The medium is crucial as coins were exchanged daily; thus the imagery of both emperors holding religious and military power is being spread throughout the Byzantine Empire.
Bellinger, Alfred R. 1966. Catalogue of the Byzantine Coins in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection and in the Whittemore Collection, vol. 1, Anastasius I to Maurice, 491–602. Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection.
Grierson, Philip. Byzantine Coinage. Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 1999.
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.
Yonan, Michael. 2019. “Materiality as Periphery.” Visual Resources 35, nos. 3-4: 200–216.
Kyle Dwyer (’23), December 2022 for ARHS 110 (Fall 2022)