These nomisma were minted in the 11th century under the reigns of Emperor Michael VII and Emperor Constantine X.
The obverse of each coin features a beautiful portrait of Christ with a halo. Enthroned, he raises on hand in benediction and in the other holds the Gospels. The reverse of the coins shows each respective emperor standing, while wearing a crown and holding a globe and cross.
Aside from the coins’ magnificent quality and design, simply imagine the history they represent. Consider not only the Byzantine empire from which they came, but all the empires that have risen and fallen since. Inca, Ming, Mughal, Holy Roman, Austro-Hungarian—all have faded from the sands of time.
It truly brings to mind Shelley’s famous poem, in which he describes a vast, broken statue with the following inscription:
“My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
But as the traveler in the poem notes:
“Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”
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