Description:This 10th century coin features Jesus Christ Pantokrator “Christ in Majesty”, wearing a cruciform nimbus crown, while holding the Book of Gospels and raising his right hand in benediction. The reverse of this gold coin depicts the Virgin Mary (nimbate) and the Emperor Nicephorus II Phocas wearing loros, while holding a long patriarchal cross between them.
The Byzantine Empire, also known as the Eastern Roman Empire, existed for more than a thousand years, from AD 306 to 1453 and was one of the most powerful economic, cultural, and military forces in Europe and Asia Minor. The Empire was also the cradle of Christianity and home of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Nicephorus II was Byzantine Emperor from 963 to 969. As a general, Nicephorus defeated the Muslims while capturing the Islands of Crete and Cyprus and also in the conquests of Cilicia and Aleppo. His brilliant military exploits contributed to the resurgence of the Byzantine Empire during the 10th century.
This gold Jesus Christ coin was minted 6 centuries after Constantine I announced Roman toleration of Christianity in the Edict of Milan, which removed penalties for professing Christianity. As this coin shows, Byzantine art was mainly devoted to the Christian faith which flourished for over a thousand years under their protection.