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The History of Byzantine Coinage
Mints
Uses of Coins
Christianization of the Coin
Representation of Christ
Representation of the Virgin
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In the early 11th century, the nomisma (histamenon) was slightly debased by the inclusion of silver in the gold; this resulted in a larger coin with a harder fabric, requiring a greater number of blows to the die. Subsequently, the moneyers began using smaller dies and leaving a large unstruck surface outside the border. This produced the curious concave shape of the nomisma (histamenon) that first appeared in the 1040s (photos right and see Case I, No. 13), a shape that continued in use as late as the 14th century (see Case I, Nos. 23, 26). A more serious debasement occurred after 1068 when silver was deliberately added to the alloy.

In the 12th and 13th century, the moneyers introduced the practice of striking concave blanks (not flat as previously) using a smaller convex lower die and a concave upper one. Metallurgical investigation has revealed that, in some cases, the upper die was struck with two blows at different angles to produce a clear image (see drawings, below). Why such a complicated process continued in use until ca. 1350 is still debated.




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