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Research Coins: The Coin Shop

253372. Sold For $135

KINGS of AXUM (Aksum). Ouazebas. Circa 350-400 AD. Æ 18mm (2.31 gm). OVAZEBAC BACI LEYC, draped bust right wearing headcloth, flanked by grain ears / +TOV TO APECH TH XWPA (May This [the cross] Please the Country), small draped bust right in circle; the interior of the circle gilt. Munro-Hay 54; BMC Aksum 245. Near VF, green patina.

One of the most curious aspects of Axumite coinage is the use of gilding on some of their silver and bronze coins. The amount of gold used would not be enough to significantly change the value of the coin, and the reason for this process remains somewhat a mystery. It is usually found highlighting the portrait of the king or as embellishment of the cross, so it may serve the same purpose as gold tesserae in church mosaics and gold leaf on manuscripts- to reflect the Divine Light shining on the monarch and the church.