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The Byzantine era, spanning from 300 to 1400 AD, saw the widespread use of Byzantine money in the eastern part of the Roman Empire, which had endured significant transformation and division following the Roman Empire’s split. The currency of this era primarily consisted of the gold solidus, a coin that held great value and stability, and a range of well-crafted bronze coinage. Notably, the Christian symbol of the cross was prominently featured on the vast majority of these coins, reflecting the profound influence of Christianity on Byzantine society and culture.

The Byzantine Empire, often referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, emerged as a distinct entity with the founding of its capital, Byzantium, later known as Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul), by the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great in 330 AD. This marked a crucial shift in the center of Roman power and had profound implications for the currency and cultural expressions within the empire.

The gold solidus, known for its purity and reliability, was the backbone of Byzantine coinage. It featured a variety of emperors, but the portrayal of Christ on a coin was a remarkable departure from tradition. One of the most renowned coins from this era is the gold coin of Justinian II, which bore the image of Christ on the obverse side. This striking depiction of Christ on a coin was a significant divergence from the conventional practice of featuring the reigning emperor. It added a unique spiritual dimension to the currency, symbolizing the blend of temporal and divine authority in the Byzantine Empire.