Perhaps the most famous of all Byzantine coins is the distinctive, and unique, Cup Coins. With gentle to steep domes, these curved coins have fascinated collectors and historians alike for almost 1,000 years.
Reminiscent of the slightly bowed coins of ancient Greece, first gently curved and then deeply cupped coins emerged in the 11th Century with the reign of Michael IV, whose gold coins started to show a distinct curvature. By the middle of the 12th Century, coins in all metals were deeply cupped.
And the domed shape of these coins has another advantage. The Byzantines were devout Christians, and the elegant dome of Cup Coins elevates the portrait of Jesus Christ which always appears at the top of the dome. This design with Jesus’ striking halo, is one of the most beloved of the sacred symbols immortalized on coins throughout time, and has a place of prominence on the coin just because of its shape!
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