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.
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