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Byzantine Coin

Coin, 602-610 C.E., Silver, Gift of Drs. Arthur and Roswitha Haas, 2015.7.138.

Emperor Flavius Phocas Augustus minted silver coins like this during his short reign of only eight years. He was merely a centurion of modest origin before becoming Emperor and did so by leading an army rebellion against Emperor Maurice in 602. Phocas did not manage the empire much better however. He did recognize the religious power of the Pope which pleased the powers in Rome, but he neglected unorthodox Christian sects and Jewish communities causing revolts closer to Constantinople. Old allies of Maurice raided Byzantine resources and fear of the growing Persian military strength lead to Phocus’s execution lead by his own son. Such a tumultuous rule as Phocus’s is strategically hidden in the symbols of the coinage. In his coin portrait, he triumphantly wields a cross in one hand. On the back of the coin is a picture of Nike signifying victory.


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