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Author Topic: Meaning of Sear 1818 Christ Pantokrator nimbus ornamentations ?  (Read 177 times)

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Offline Heliodromus

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There's a great NumisWiki page covering the various nimbus ornamentations that can be found on the Sear 1818 Christ Pantokrator type of Basil II & Constantine VIII.

I'm curious if there are any theories about the meaning of the nimbus ornamentations ? It's interesting to see how Grierson has assigned them numbers in terms of increasing complexity from 1-5 pellets, and in terms of this ordering seems to have counted the 4-armed equilateral cross as "4" and X + 4-pellets (41-42) as "5". Is this just a convenient ordering, or is it significant ?

I'm particularly interested in the "X + 4-pellets" (41-42) symbol, but maybe these are best understood in context of the sequence/variety rather than individually ?


Offline Kevin P

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Re: Meaning of Sear 1818 Christ Pantokrator nimbus ornamentations ?
« Reply #1 on: June 09, 2021, 06:35:49 pm »
Hi Ben,
Great observations and questions about this complicated set of coins.  I'll try to make this short:
-- The order of the varieties goes all the way back to what I believe was the first attempt to order and classify all of the anonymous types.  They are recorded in Alfred Bellinger's 1928 paper "The Anonymous Byzantine Bronze Coinage."  His primary source material was the large numbers of anonymous folles found in the Corinth excavations.  For the Class A table, he also drew from known museum collections, such as the British Museum Collection and the American Numismatic Society Collection.  As the first creator, he chose to order it starting with the nimbus ornaments, then by the book ornament, then the reverse.  It was by convenience only.
-- Several researchers have attempted to make sense of these ornaments, and many theories have been proposed (mint marks, dates/years, etc).  A good summary of the various theories and his opinions about them can be found in the DO Catalogue (Philip Grierson) - Volume 3, part 2, starting with page 644.
-- Regarding the obverse ornaments on Varieties 41-42, I'm not aware of any particular meaning of that ornament relative to the others as of yet.  In general, Varieties 41-42 are part of the group of varieties that are smaller in size (along with Var 24, 32, 39, 40, 43, 45, 47 and a few others).  Based on hoard evidence, these seem to have been made late in Basil II's reign (the last phase of Class A).

I hope this helps.


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