Pectoral with Coins and Pseudo-Medallion

Date: ca. 539–50

Culture: Byzantine

Medium: Gold, niello

Dimensions: Overall: 9 7/16 x 8 5/8 x 5/8 in. (23.9 x 21.9 x 1.6 cm)
ring: 19 11/16 x 3/8 in. (50 x 1 cm)
Medallion: 2 3/4 x 6 11/16 x 3/8 in. (7 x 17 x 1 cm)
weight: 11.9oz. (338g)

Classification: Metalwork-Gold

Credit Line: Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917

Accession Number: 17.190.1664


This imposing neck ring may have been made for an aristocrat or general associated with the Byzantine court. The large central medallion, formed from two gold sheets worked in repoussé, depicts an unidentified emperor on the front and a personification of a city, probably Constantinople, on the back. The gold coins date from Theodosius II (r. 408–50) to 539, when Justinian (r. 527–65) changed his portrait type, suggesting that the necklace was made about this time. A framed, solid-gold imperial medallion of Theodosius I (r. 379–95), found in the same hoard, probably once hung from the pectoral.