The History of Byzantine Coinage
Uses of Coins
Christianization of the Coin
Representation of Christ
Representation of the Virgin
In the late Roman period, coins were minted in a number of cities, mainly because of the danger and cost of moving large quantities of precious metal from place to place. This system was inherited by Byzantium, and in the 6th century there were six mints in the Eastern Empire (Constantinople, Nicomedia, Cyzicus, Antioch [Theoupolis], Alexandria and Thessalonica) and three in the Western provinces that Justinian had reconquered from the Vandals and the Ostrogoths (Carthage, Rome and Ravenna).

Gold coins were minted mainly in the capital and consequently have the mint mark CON (for Constantinople), with OB added on the solidi to show that they were minted of pure gold (the technical name for which was obryzum) and that they were struck 72 (OB = 72 in Greek numerals) to the pound (photo upper right). When gold coins were made elsewhere the mints were treated as extensions of that in Constantinople so that CON and CONOB still appear (photo far upper right). The products of such mints can be identified only by their specific fabric, style and provenance.

Copper coins of the 6th and 7th centuries usually have an abbreviated place name indicating where they were minted: CON for Constantinople, KYZ for Cyzicus, and so on (photos lower right). The major mints were supplemented by minor and usually temporary ones when required (e.g., at Isaura and Seleucia in southeast Asia Minor during Heraclius' Persian campaign).

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Solidus of Constantine VII and Romanus I
Solidus of Constantine VII and Romanus I
Solidus of Constantine VII and Romanus I
Solidus of Constantine VII and Romanus I