• Dochka Vladimirova-Aladzhova Dr. Prof. Head of the Department of Numismatics and Epigraphy National Archaeological Institute with Museum, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (Sofia, Bulgaria)
Keywords: seal, sphragistics, Emperor Justin I, gold coin, copper coins, imitations of follis, Serdica


The paper examines a seal of Emperor Justin I (518-527). It has the following description:

Obverse: Beardless bust with a nimbus of Emperor Justin I, opposite, with a helmet and chlamys. Around the image an inscription in clockwise direction:

N IVSТI NVSPPAVG = D(ominus) n(oster Justinus p(er)petus Aug(ustus)

Reverse: Victoria standing across with a wreath in each hand, in the bottom left field a small So far there is not known bulla of this ruler from Bulgaria and because of that some questions arise when identifying the specimen from Serdica. The inscription on the newly discovered seal showed that the bulla belonged to Justin, but it is not clear if it is Justin I (518-527) or Justin II (565-578). The image on the obverse differs from the known images of Justin I and Justin II. It is smaller and occupies part of the nucleus, while in the published so far the size of the bullotirium is larger than the nucleus itself. The inscription of the copy from Serdica is clearly legible, but the letters and the image are small, which distinguishes this seal from the known so far. The difference is obvious also in the reverse, in which Victoria does not follow the model of the image from the molybdenums of Justinian I and Justin II, but her image is close to that of the seals of Anastasius I, and even could be said that it completely copies it. The characteristics of the seal, its inscription and images are different from the ones of the copies of Justin II, which is a serious reason to attribute it to the time of Emperor Justin I, which makes it currently unique of this type.

Other evidence of life in Serdica from the time of Emperor Justin I (518 - 527) are the coins discovered. In Serdica the most numerous are the coins of 40 nummi, followed by those of 20 nummi, which are almost two times less than the large denomination. The number of the specimens of 10 and 5 nummi is equal, but is less than the number of the large denominations. As mints, the coins from Constantinople predominated, followed by coins from Nicomedia, Antioch and Cyzicus. Among the regular coins were found two imitations of folles of Justin I, which imitate the production of the mint of Constantinople from this period. These coins, found together with the official ones used in the Byzantine state, show that they were accepted by the financial authorities as a regular payment tool. Two gold coins of Justin I are discovered in Serdica I - a solidus found at the eastern fortress wall and a tremis from the excavations at the northeastern tower.

The new seal of Emperor Justin I presented in the article and the coins discovered by this ruler in Serdica show the significant role of the city during this period.


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How to Cite
Vladimirova-Aladzhova, D. (2021). UNKNOWN SEAL OF EMPEROR JUSTIN I (518-527) FROM SERDICA. The Ukrainian Numismatic Annual, (5), 188-196. https://doi.org/10.31470/2616-6275-2021-5-188-196