Bronze Coin - Nummus, Ancient Rome, c. 330-335 AD
Commemorative Issue: Founding of Constantinopolis
Struck by Constantine the Great and his sons
Obv: “Constantinopoli” Helmeted bust of city deity, left
Rev: Victory standing left with shield on ship prow
Sear-R16475, 18mm, 2.89gm
An attractive coin, strongly struck, with fine surface patina.
Constantinople was famed for its massive and complex defences. The first wall of the city was erected by Constantine I, and surrounded the city on both land and sea fronts. Later, in the 5th century, the Praetorian Prefect Anthemius under the child emperor Theodosius II undertook the construction of the Theodosian Walls, which consisted of a double wall lying about 2 km (1.2 miles) to the west of the first wall and a moat with palisades in front. This formidable complex of defences was one of the most sophisticated of Antiquity and the city was built intentionally on seven hills as well as juxtaposed between the Golden Horn and the Sea of Marmara and thus presented an impregnable fortress enclosing magnificent palaces, domes, and towers, necessitated from being the gateway between two continents (Europe and Asia) and two seas (the Mediterranean and the Black Seas).
The city was also famed for its architectural masterpieces, such as the Greek Orthodox cathedral of Hagia Sophia, which served as the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the sacred Imperial Palace where the Emperors lived, the Galata Tower, the Hippodrome, the Golden Gate of the Land Walls, and the opulent aristocratic palaces lining the arcaded avenues and squares. The University of Constantinople was founded in the fifth century and contained numerous artistic and literary treasures, including its vast Imperial Library which contained the remnants of the Library of Alexandria and had over 100,000 volumes of ancient texts, before it was sacked in 1204 and 1453.
Although besieged on numerous occasions by various peoples, the defences of Constantinople proved invulnerable for nearly nine hundred years before the city was taken in 1204 by the Crusader armies of the Fourth Crusade.