Byzantium
"...and there is yet another sign of the power which God has accorded to the Romans, to wit, that it is with their coinage that all nations do their trade: it is received everywhere from one end of the earth to the other: it is admired by all men and every kingdom, for no other kingdom has its like."
Cosmas Indicopleustes  an Egyptian merchant of the time of Justinian I 

From its founding by Constantine the Great in 330 to its final fall on the morning of 29th May, 1453, the Byzantine Empire traversed one thousand one hundred and twenty-three years. It is a period of longevity almost unrivalled in history; and yet, until recently it is a period written off by historians as merely the extended decline and fall of the Roman Empire. Its coinage has been found from Iceland to Ceylon.

A world seemingly so unlike ours, the relevance of Byzantium lingers: the president of Russia is now sworn in by the Patriarch under a banner depicting the great double-headed eagle of the Palaeologi; while enmities and confederacies stemming from policies forged in the Palace of Blachernae shape the present day alliances of the Balkans and near-East. No other lasting empire has held such temporal power mixed with such spiritual devotion.

The legendary wealth of Constantinople, with its sublime craftsmanship and awesome golden mosaics, (the "Sages standing in God's Holy fire," of Yeats' much quoted poem,) was coupled with a spirituality that dictated penance and abstinence even for a soldier who had killed in battle.


Enhancements and Additions: You can now view larger photos of the coins by clicking on the thumbnail image. There's larger images of nearly all the coins; soon to be there for all.

Some interesting new coins are now up, including an unusual Ravenna piece of Constantine V, a lovely silver 1/3 Siliqua of Justin II, also from Ravenna, and a Heraclius follis of Cherson on the Black Sea.


Virtual tour of the Byzantine displays at the Archaeological Museum in Istanbul.

The Istanbul Archaeological Museum holds one of the great collections of Byzantine artifacts, all uncovered during excavations and construction projects in the city and its environs. The display is little publicized - in fact, it forms about 95% of an exhibition titled Istanbul Through The Ages - and is frequently closed altogether. The Archaeological Museum displays none of this online and it is only available in print rolled into a expansive and expensive overview of the museum's complete collection. And so, with all due credit to the keepers of this fine museum, I have put together a virtual walk-through of the exhibit, displaying (just about) every piece in its sequence. The descriptive text I have used is their's, though with some extra details, such as dimensions, and the occasional clarification and added description thrown in. For the quality of the photograhy, I can only plead poor lighting and hope it won't detract too much from the usefulness of the whole.The slide-show was put together with the excellent freeware tool, JAlbum.

Constantine IOld Rome & NewFaustaSt Helena
TheodoraCrispusDelmatiusConstantine IIConstans IConstantius II
VetranioMagnentiusDecentiusConstantius GallusJulianJovian
Valentinian IValensProcopiusGratianValentinian IITheodosius I
Aelia FlaccillaMagnus MaximusFlavius VictorArcadiusEudoxiaHonorius
Theodosius IIValentinian IIIMarcianLeo IZenoAnastasius I
Justin IJustinian IJustin IITiberius II ConstantineMaurice TiberiusPhocas
HeracliusHeraclonasConstans IIArab-ByzantineConstantine IVJustinian II
LeontiusTiberius III ApsimarPhilippicus BardanesAnastasius II ArtemiusTheodosius IIILeo III
ArtavasdusConstantine VLeo IVIreneNicephorus IMichael I
Leo VMichael IITheophilusMichael IIIBasil ILeo VI
Romanus I LecapanusConstantine VIIRomanus IINicephorus II PhocasJohn I TzimiscesBasil II
Constantine VIIIRomanus III ArgyrusMichael IVConstantine IX MonomachusIsaac I ComnenusConstantine X Ducas
Romanus IVMichael VII DucasNicephorus III BotaniatesAnonymous FollesAlexius I ComnenusJohn II Comnenus
Manuel I ComnenusAndronicus I ComnenusIsaac ComnenusIsaac II AngelusTheodore MangaphasAlexius III Angelis-Comnenus
Michael VIII PalaeologusAndronicus II PalaeologusAndronicus III PalaeologusJohn V PalaeologusManuel II PalaeologusJohn VIII Palaeologus
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Last modified on 06 Apr 2014