The familiar image of a Byzantine empress is of a figure elaborately robed, crowned and dripping with jewels, both encrusted on her robes and in the form of necklace or collar, earrings and diadem, adorned in purple and gold, maybe holding a sceptre or some other token of majesty. It is a representation perhaps encapsulated in the sixth-century mosaic from the church of San Vitale in Ravenna of the empress Theodora (fig. 20.1), or in two ivory plaques depicting empresses, one in Florence and one in Vienna, but it is a representation which recurs time and again in media from ivories and coins to mosaics and statues. However, such an iconography did not spring fully-formed into being. Roman empresses were depicted as noble women, in the gowns of aristocratic females, with elaborate coiffeurs, perhaps holding scrolls, sometimes with fillets holding their hair, occasionally with diadems or crowns, even turreted crowns. 1 Such imagery continued into the fourth century, as the Louvre statuette of an empress, often identified as Flaccilla, reveals. 2 Evidence from coins of empresses from Helena in the early fourth to Ariadne in the late fifth century allows us to see an increasing elaboration of female dress throughout this period and it seems that by the fifth century, empresses had acquired the jewelled robes, diadems, elaborate collars and earrings visible in the image of Theodora. 3