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All Posts Tagged With: "Byzantine coins"

Princeton University Numismatic Collection Acquires 7th Century “Jesus” Coin

From The Times of Trenton, NJ

It’s not the kind of coin you’d want to plunk into a soda machine, nor is it the kind you’d find while digging around under your couch cushions.

pinceton_jesus_coinIt’s a Byzantine gold coin from the seventh century with an image of Jesus Christ on its face, issued by Emperor Justinian II. It’s the first known coin to have a Christ image, and it now has a new home in the Princeton University Numismatic Collection.

It’s a high quality specimen that Alan Stahl, the university’s curator of numismatics, said he had been seeking for several years, only to be outbid at auction again and again.

“Finally, a dealer with whom I’d placed a bid a couple of times found one in a private collection and offered it to us at a reasonable price.” The coin has been dated to the year 692.

According to Stahl, the Princeton University’s numismatic collection contains about 100,000 items and is reputed to be the oldest institutional collection in the country.

He said the gold coin was a specimen valuable not only in terms of the coinage of the eastern Mediterranean in the Middle Ages, but in the history of all coinage.

“The most important thing is that it’s the first time the image of Christ is used as the main image on the coin,” Alan Stahl – Curator of Numismatics

Until this time, most coins had only featured portraits of the period’s ruling emperor. In this case, Justinian II was cast on the reverse of the coin.

And while this may seem like a benign bit of imagery to us today, it sent shock waves across the region in its time.

“This was considered really shocking in its time, and it got reactions all over,” he said.

To read the complete article, see: Princeton acquires coin with an image of Jesus from the 7th century (