Anastasius                                491 - 518


In a larger context the Byzantine empire as such could be said to have started when the ancient city of Byzantium was renamed Constantinople by Constantine I and made a political axis on a par with Rome, Numismatic historians, however, classify Anastasius as the last Roman Emperor and the first Byzantine one. Although he considered himself "Roman", along with all future Byzantine emperors, his choice in 498 to discard the then monetary system in favor of a new, more Greek-flavored one was a lasting landmark of profound significance. Culturally, the Byzantines were always Greek under their skin and as the influence of the Romans waned there was ever less reason to reflect what to them was a foreign culture even at an official level. Within another hundred years most distinctly Roman traits had been supplanted by the new zeitgeist which better served, after all, a Greek citizenry.

During his reign he consolidated power in what was left of the eastern half of the empire and gave up for lost the barbarian-infested western one. To his credit, he was a shrewd administrator and settled several favorable trade treaties which started off the Byzantine period on sound financial footing.


AE Follis 491--518 A.D.


32 mm.

Obv. DN ANASTASIVS PF AV(G): Diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust right

Rev. M center, star on either side with pellet above and below, Cross above M with E below, CON in exergue

Sear 21, Ratto 348, Dumbarton Oaks 231