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Author Topic: Justinian solidus attribution puzzle  (Read 68 times)

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Offline Obryzum

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Justinian solidus attribution puzzle
« on: July 31, 2022, 10:39:37 pm »
Our Byzantine forum has become quite quiet during these summer holidays.  So I share the following puzzle.  Where was this coin minted? Starting point is always Constantinople unless there are indications to the contrary. 

First point is that the As are not crossed.  Instead we see  :Greek_Lambda: where an A should appear-- once on the obverse and twice on the reverse.  This was more common at the Italian mints (Rome, Ravenna, Sicily) and almost never happened at Constantinople as far as I can tell.

Second point is that the AVG at the end of the obverse legend is either blundered or abbreviated.  Rome mint sometimes abbreviated AVG to AG, but this does not look like AG.

Third point is the placement of the second I in VICTORIAConstantinople mint usually engraves this at a 30 degree angle.  Other mints, including Rome, Ravenna, Carthage and Alexandria were often (but not always) more deliberate about cutting the I at a 45 degree angle and centering it in the upper left field of the staurogram.

Fourth point is the portrait style.  Here Justinian has a much narrower jaw than on most other coins.  On most coins the jaw is full and wide and looks like a U shape.  Rome had a more variable portrait style than Constantinople of Ravenna.  This does not look anything like the Ravenna style.

Fifth point is the star: Eight pointed star weighs against a Rome attribution, but does not rule it out entirely.

Finally the officinae letter.  I initially thought it was a B, but now I think it looks more like an S.     

I am curious if anyone has any other ideas or observations.

Offline Obryzum

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Re: Justinian solidus attribution puzzle
« Reply #1 on: August 04, 2022, 12:32:32 am »
There is something else a little odd about the coin, something that I did not notice immediately: The dots and the breastplate are off.  Normally the breastplate either has no dots or three dots.  Sometimes these dots are quite bold and prominent, but usually they are not.  In this case, there are no dots on the breastplate -- which is fine -- but there are two prominent dots on the underlying garment -- which is odd.  Odd, but not unprecedented, as I found one ROMOB solidus with the same feature.  The ROMOB solidus, however, has a quite different style.

   

Offline Obryzum

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Re: Justinian solidus attribution puzzle
« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2022, 11:44:18 pm »
A little more digging, and I now see that those two dots were a regular feature on the solidi of the Ostrogoths.  The Ostrogoths also frequently substituted the  :Greek_Lambda: in place of the  :Greek_Alpha:

The overall style of the Ostrogoths was noticeably different, but they copied from something, and at least some of the specimens they copied very likely had those dots. 

Where does that leave me?  I don't think the coin should be attributed to Constantinople.  Perhaps somewhere in Italy?  More research required.


 

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