Girdle with Coins and Medallions

ca. 583, reassembled after discovery
Settings: gold - sheet: wire - beaded. Coins: gold - stamped.
Overall: 26 9/16 x 2 3/16 x 1/4 in. (67.5 x 5.5 x 0.6 cm) Wt: 348g diameter of 9 small medallions: 1 x 1/8 in. (2.5 x 0.3 cm) diameter of 4 medium size medallions: 1 3/16 x 3/16 in. (3 x 0.5 cm) diameter of 4 large medallions: 2 3/16 x 1/4 in. (5.5 x 0.6 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917
Accession Number:
  • Description

    This incomplete, massive gold girdle composed of a series of solidi (gold coins) and medallions may have been worn as an insignia of office. The four medallions depicting the emperor Maurice Tiberius (r. 582–602) probably were minted for him to present as gifts to high officials and nobles when he assumed the office of consul in 583. All the coins are stamped CONOB (Constantinopolis obryzum, i.e., pure gold of Constantinople), indicating that they were minted in the capital city. Joined with nine coins of Maurice Tiberius on the girdle is one of Theodosius II (r. 402–50) and four of the brief joint rule of Justin I and Justinian in 527.

  • Provenance

    Found at Karavas, near Kyrenia, Cyprus, 1902; Amedeo Canessa, Paris (sold 1911); J. Pierpont Morgan, London and New York (from 1911)