Gold Solidus of Justinian I (527–65)

Date: 538–565

Geography: Made in Constantinople

Culture: Byzantine

Medium: Gold

Dimensions: Overall: 3/4 x 1/16 in. (1.9 x 0.1 cm)

Classification: Coins

Credit Line: Bequest of Joseph H. Durkee, 1898

Accession Number: 99.35.7406


Coins connected an emperor to his subjects. Through inscriptions and images, they conveyed imperial ideals and commemorated auspicious events. The emperor paid the army and received taxes in coins, and he was responsible for maintaining their weight and purity. This coin was minted under Justinian, whose preference for a completely frontal portrait-rather than the traditional profile-would set a standard for the rest of Byzantine history.