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    Justinian II Rhinotmetus, second reign (AD 705-711). AV solidus (19mm, 4.49 gm, 6h). NGC MS 4/5 - 5/5. Constantinople, AD 705-706. d N IhS ChS RЄX-RЄGNANTIЧM, facing bust of youthful Christ, with slight beard and tight, curly hair, right hand raised in benediction, book of Gospels in left; cross behind / d N IЧS-TINIA-NVS MЧLTЧS A', crowned facing bust of Justinian II, wearing loros, cross potent set on three steps in right hand, globus cruciger inscribed PAX in left. Sear 1413. DOC 1. MIB 1. Sharply struck overall from fresh dies of excellent style.

    From the Collection of a Philhellene. Ex Gorny & Mosch, Auction 78 (June 1998), lot 682.

    Upon his return to power, Justinian II immediately resumed his innovative coinage featuring an obverse portrait of Christ. The new sacred image, however, was distinctly different from the "classic" Christ of Justinian's first reign. Jesus is shown in a seemingly more youthful guise, with a head of tight, curly hair and a close-cropped beard, in place of the long tresses and medium-length beard on coins of the first reign. Various theories have been put forth to explain this abrupt change in iconography, but it remains mysterious. At any rate young, curly headed Christ proved a short-lived depiction. It would not be until the end of the iconoclastic era in the late 9th century AD that Christ would again be depicted on Byzantine coins, and the image would revert to the more traditional long-haired visage of Justinian II's first reign.


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