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Scyphatus of Emperor Manuel I Comnenus

  • Era/Century: Middle Ages
  • Site: unknown
  • Material: canvas
  • Technique: forging
  • Diameter: 2.8 cm
  • Weight: 3.95 gr
  • ID Number: N 2975
  • Property: Belgrade City Museum
  • On Display: No

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A document preserved in Vatican and dating from the second half of the 9th century contains the first reference to Singidunum under the Slav name Belgrade, although the name itself is much earlier. From that time on that name has persisted for centuries, for the town and its broader surroundings were settled by the Slavs, i.e. the Serbs, who appear in this region, according to historical sources, in the first half of the 7th century.

From the middle of the 11th century Byzantine Belgrade was the northernmost stronghold defending the Empire from the Hungarians, whose state was growing stronger and expanding. In the time of Emperor Manuel Comnenus (1143-1180) the Belgrade Fortress was restored, enlarged and provided with a numerous garrison. It was the period of the struggle with Hungary for supremacy in the Danubian region. In the late eleventh century Byzantine coinage underwent a chage. The gold unit was named nomisma, given a cuplike shape and generally struck in electrum (mixture of gold and silver). The same cup shape, the main feature of Byzantine coinage between the 11th and 13th centuries, was given to the bronze coinage as well.

From the time of 12th century, the time of uncertainty and war conflicts, date the hoards of various size containing Byzantine cup-like coins, the so-called scyphati, which have been found in the area of Belgrade and across the Save, in Srem. The finds include valuable coins made of gold and electrum.

The obverse of this scyphatus shows Emperor Manuel Comnenus and St Theodore standing one next to the other. They hold a cross with two horizontal bars, which rests on a globe. The inscription round the representation is partly illegible MA[N?HL] - QE [...].

On the reverse is a representation of standing Christ. He holds a Bible in his left hand and confers blessing with his right hand. To the left and right is a star, top left IC, top right XC.

Published in Coins and Medals


Angelina Banković
Urban Planning and Architecture
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