Gold Pectoral ornamented with Coins. Morgan
Collection. Plates I, VI, and VII
The pectoral consists of a large neck-ring of gold attached to an elaborate frame in which clusters of gold coins and a medallion are set. Its weight is 341 grammes.
The neck-ring (width, 0.22 m.; length, not including the hinge, 0.232 m.) is a hollow tube (o.oi m. in diameter), which passed around the neck of the wearer; it was opened by removing a screw pin on the left side, thus allowing the ring to swing back on a hinge on the right side; the screw pin turned from left to right (p. loi). The neck-ring, which has been bent on the left side, is without ornamentation,
but at the ends are two flat raised bands that bear a zigzag pattern bordered by a very fine beading; between these bands on the front side is a small rosette similar to those in the border surrounding the coins in the frame. A round plate, pierced with a hole in the centre, is soldered to the end of the neck-ring, to which in turn the hinge joints are fastened.
The decoration of the frame, and the arrangement of the central medallion with the coins at either side, are indicated in Plate VIII. In the following description the order of the letters in Plate VIII is followed.
a. Large medallion
In the centre of the frame is a large medallion (0.053 m. in diameter, not including the beaded wire, 0.058 m. including it; width of edge, 0.007 m.) resembling a medallion coin. It consists of two separate plates, one for the obverse and one for the reverse ; both the relief work and the details of dress and hair were not stamped but were executed by free hand with a fine chisel.
On the obverse is the portrait, crudely executed, of a fifth or sixth century emperor, facing toward the right, and wearing the diadem (cf. Plate IX) ; he has a cuirass, and a military cloak fastened with an elaborate fibula.
On the reverse is Roma (or Constantinopolis), seated, facing left, holding in the left hand a sceptre, and in the right a globe surmounted by a cross; below is the prow of a ship. In the field on the left is the monogram of Christ, and on the right a star, which may have been intended for the Christian monogram.
On the obverse is an unintelligible legend chiselled in Greek characters: NYH22NTINP TPHNYIPNIVC. Substantially the same legend recurs on the reverse, with the exception that the fourth letter is written C. The division on the reverse is NYHC8N TIN PTPHNVIPNIYC. A lightly incised line, drawn along the outer edge of the letters, on both obverse and reverse, served as guide.
The medallion with its legend is undoubtedly a barbaric production,! made in imitation of an imperial model. That model was possibly a coin of one of the Valentinians, which bore the legend D N VALENTINIANVS P F AVG. The legends of Roman coins, particularly those of Valentinian III, were frequently copied without intelligence by the barbarians of the sixth and seventh centuries.^ The name of a Valentinian was a long one, and might easily have perplexed a foreigner who had only a slight familiarity with Latin.^ Coin types similar to this occur for all three of the Valentinians. A coin of Valentinian III, with types resembling those of the medallion, is shown in Fig. 5.^ An unintelligible legend, evidently a barbaric imitation of some imperial coin, occurs also on the medallions of the bracelets numbered 30 and 31 (Plate L).
At the branching of the spirals a fine wire is wound three times, perhaps to indicate the joint of the vine. On each side of the central medallion are seven gold coins in cylindrical settings ; a concave surface between beaded wires forms the border. Six coins on each side are solidi of Theodosius, Anthemius, and Justinian I, and one on each side is a tremissis of Justinian. The pectoral is, therefore, as late as the middle of the sixth century. The letters of the legends are in several cases partially concealed by the frames of the coins, or blurred by solder.