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Solidus (Coin) of Constantine V and Leo IV

A work made of gold.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of gold.


751-775 (reigned 741–775)


Byzantine, minted in Constantinople

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. This image of an emperor can no longer be thought of as a likeness of the man, but instead a portrait of kingship in the regalia of royalty.


Currently Off View


Arts of the Ancient Mediterranean and Byzantium




Solidus (Coin) of Constantine V and Leo IV


Byzantine Empire (Minted in)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

Struck 751 CE–775 CE




Obverse: C LE ONPAMUL Reverse: CONS....


Diam.: 1.9 cm (3/4 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Emily Crane Chadbourne

Reference Number


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Extended information about this artwork

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