Solidus (Coin) Portraying Heraclius and His Son Heraclius Constantine

A work made of gold.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of gold.

Date:

613/616

Artist:

Byzantine; minted in Constantinople (now Istanbul)

About this artwork

The purpose of the first portrait coins was to identify the ruler. The front side became a mirror of the sovereign’s self-image. The back was often used to communicate the ruler’s accomplishments or intentions. The profile portrait was used because it suited the very shallow depth and limited surface of the coin. The tiny images were carved by engravers into bronze dies, one for the front and another for the back. The coins were then struck, one by one, in a process similar to how modern coins are created today.

Portraits with Royal Regalia
Since few citizens actually saw their sovereign, recognizable symbols such as crowns, robes, and regalia served to identify the ruler. When Christianity became the official state religion of the Byzantine Empire, the emperors adopted Christian symbolism, most notably the cross, to stand for both the religion and the political state.

On View

Ancient and Byzantine Art, Gallery 153

Artist

Byzantine

Title

Solidus (Coin) Portraying Heraclius and His Son Heraclius Constantine

Origin

Byzantine Empire

Date

613 AD–616 AD

Medium

Gold

Dimensions

Diam. 2.1 cm; 4.41 g

Credit Line

Gift of Emily Crane Chadbourne

Reference Number

1940.13

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email .

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