Byzantine Seals Collection
Held at: Princeton University Library: Manuscripts Division [Contact Us]
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Princeton University Library: Manuscripts Division. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
Consists of six Byzantine lead seals: 1) anonymous, 13th century (middle-second half), 24-syllable metrical seal; 2) Niketas, proedros and doux of Antioch, 1034 A.D; 3) Thoros I Roupenids, 13th century (first third), 24-syllable metrical seal; 4) John, metropolitan of Sardis, 11th century; 5) bust of St. Nicholas, 11th (mid) - 12th (early) century, 24-syllable metrical seal; 6) John, logariastes of the Tropaiophoros (St. George of Mangana), 11th century (last third).
Anonymous gift, 2014.
Description by Lain Wilson, 2012.
No materials were separated during 2014 processing.
- Manuscripts Division
- Finding Aid Date
- Access Restrictions
The collection is open for research.
- Use Restrictions
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.
Obverse: Full-length portrait of Virgin episkepsis, both hands raised, medallion of Christ on her chest. Reverse: Inscription in seven lines.
Ἁπλ(οῦ)σα χεῖρας εἰς ἐπίσκεψιν κόσμου σκέπην κἀμ(οῦ), Πάναγνε, πρακτέοις δίδου
24-syllable metrical seal. The style and letter-forms are indicative of early Palaeologian seals, including the mu forms as well as the shorter middle bar of some of the epsilons. For dating, description follows Wassiliou-Seibt, Corpus der byzantinischen Siegel mit metrischen Legenden, Teil 1 (Vienna, 2011), no. 123, of which this is variation 5 (e). The entry lists the other variations and their publication information. There are several parallels known (Hunger lists 19 examples in the Siegel-Photothek der Byzantinischen Kommission der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaft, while W.-S. includes 8 variations, primarily paleographic).Physical Description
Obverse: Full-length portrait of Virgin, holding Christ in left hand. Reverse: Inscription in six lines.
Θεοτόκε βοήθει Νικήτᾳ προέδρῳ και δουκὶ Ἀντιοχείας
This Niketas should be identified as the brother of the emperor Michael IV (1034-1041). The Orghidan seal is in much worse condition, and does not include a legible inscription on the obverse. In addition, the reverse inscription is "Κύριε βοήθει"; that is, it lacks the initial theta. Laurent read a cross, which this specimen should allow us to reject in favor of Θεοτόκε. Finally, it should be noted that the obverse inscription, Ἡ Νικόποιος, which does agree with the Laurent specimen, does not match the iconography, which is the Hodogetria type. There is some disagreement over whether or not these types should be identified in the absence of an inscription, and so this mismatch is the more noteworthy. The Nikopoios icon depicts the Virgin holding a medallion of Christ in front of her chest.Physical Description
Obverse: Full-length of two military saints, facing forward. The one on the left holds a teardrop-shaped shield with a cross in his left hand, while the one on the right holds a spear in his right hand and a shield, resting on the ground, in his left.
Reverse: Inscription in seven lines
.[Δ]υάς με [φ]ρούρει καλλι[ν]ίκων μαρτύ[ρ](ων) [σ]εβαστὸν Θε[όδ]ωρον τὸν [Ρ]ουπένιον
24-syllable metrical seal. Only the right saint here is definitively identified by an inscription – Theodoros Stratelates. Wassiliou-Seibt, Corpus der byzantinischen Siegel, I no. 671 identifies the left figure as St. Demetrios, while Schlumberger and Leontiades identify him as St. George. There is another Theodoros Roupenios, protonobellisimos, although the reading is uncertain (Jordanov, Corpus II.601-601; idem, Preslav, no. 546), and proposed by W. Seibt (BZ 89, p. 137, no. 546). The name is mentioned in the Alexiad, regarding the territories ceded to Bohemond by Alexios I in the treaty of Devol: he, along with a Leo Roupenios, is an Armenian prince. The parallel of this seal which Schlumberger attributed to the same Theodore Roupenios of the Alexiad (with Laurent following in a XI-XII dating), Sandrovskaja (Sphragistika, no. 717) moved the date forward more definitively into the XII c., attributing it to Thoros I (c. 1100-c. 1129) or Thoros II (1144/5-1169) Rubenids. Attribution follows Leontiades 2006 and Wassiliou-Seibt 2011, who attribute this definitively to Thoros I.Physical Description
Obverse: Bust of Virgin, holding a medallion of Christ.
Reverse: Inscription in four lines.
Θ(εοτό)κε β(οή)θ(ει) τῷ σῷ δοῦ(λῳ) (Ἰ)ω[άννῃ] (μη)τροπο(λί)τ(ῃ) Σάρδε(ων)Physical Description
Obverse: Bust of St. Nicholas, right hand raised before him in blessing, left hand holding a book.
Reverse: Inscription in seven lines.
..... αει θερμε φατος προστατης Νικολαε προστη εξισω μου .. πελη
24-syllable metrical seal. The horseshoe ligature places this from the second quarter of the eleventh century until the first half of the twelfth. The quality of the inscription and iconography suggests the eleventh century. Metrical seals are more representative of seals from the period of the Komnenoi until the end of the empire, and so a dating of the late eleventh to (rather) early twelfth century is to be prefered. Furthermore, although the decoration of a cross on its own line is generally dated to the twelfth century, earlier examples are known.Physical Description
Obverse: Bust of Virgin, hands raised, medallion of Christ before her.
Reverse: Text in five lines.
Θ(εοτό)κε β(οή)θ(ει) [Ἰ]ω(άννῃ) λογαριαστῇ τοῦ Τροπαιοφόρου
The office of logariastes, first attested in 1012, oversaw finances, in particular the control of expenses, within government departments as well as in institutions like monateries or on private estates. The Tropaiophoros refers to the complex (formally a euages oikos, or pious institution) of St. George of Mangana, founded by Constantine IX Monomachos between 1042 and 1047. Oikonomides ("St. George of Mangana, Maria Skleraina, and the 'Malyj Sion' of Novgorod," DOP 34/35 [1980/1981]: 239-246) published an institutional seal (DO 58.106.39) for the sekreton of the foundation, governed by a megas oikonomeion, which was distinct from the kouratorikion of Mangana, a separate bureau governed by a kourator. The Tropaiophoros was created as the oikos for Constantine's mistress, Maria Skleraina. This John is the only known official of the Tropaiophoros for whom seals survive.Physical Description