Object Record

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Collection Roman Collection
Catalog Number 2015.7.140
Object Name Coin
Description Late Roman Imperial or Byzantine coin, silver, AR siliqua. Struck during the reign of Flavius Zeno Augustus in Constantinople (Istanbul), 474-491 C.E. The cuirassed bust of Zeno wears a helmet and a pearl diadem and holds a spear in his right hand over his shoulder and a shield in his left and faces forward, on obverse with the inscriptions "D N ZENO PERP AVG" left and right of image. On reverse, the standing figure of Victoria, the goddess and personification of victory, faces left and holds a long cross in his left hand with the inscriptions "VICTORIA AAVGGGA" left and right of image and "CON[O?] B" in the exergum.
Date range: 474-491 C.E.

Remarks: Zeno the Isaurian was born c. 425 C.E. During the reign of Leo I, the Isaurian chieftain Tarasicodissa cam to Constantinople where he changed his name to Zeno and, in 467, married the emperor's elder daughter, Ariadne. Leo II, the son of Zeno and Ariadne, succeeded Leo I on February 3rd, 474, and six days later the young ruler crowned his father co-emperor. Zeno became sole emperor on the death of Leo II later the same year, but he was very unpopular because of his Isaurian origin, and he had to contend not only with the aggression of the Ostrogoths but also with frequent revolts and usurpations. He died following an attack of epilepsy on April 9th, 491, after a turbulent reign of seventeen years. Zeno's coins were minted in Milan, Ravenna, Rome, and Constantinople.

Reference: David Sear, Roman Coins and their Values (1970), #4285/4288 (note: coin matches iconography of 4285 on obverse and reverse, except it is silver and not a gold solidus).

Updated Reference: David Sear, "Roman Coins and Their Values", (Vol V, 2014), #21514 (?), pg 538. (And unusual coin! I can find no listing in Sear of a silver siliqua coin matching this description, but #21514 is a Gold solidus (c. 4.50 grams) that matches the description of this coin (VF $210). Perhaps our coin here contains a bit of gold in it? I highly recommend a professional to appraise this specific coin.)
Title Zeno
Date 474-491 CE
Material Silver
Dimensions Dia-0.75 inches
Credit line Gift of Arthur G. and Roswitha Haas
Place of Origin Asia/Turkey/Istanbul
Subjects Byzantium
Byzantine Empire