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Phokas (602–10)

Accession number BZS.1951.31.5.1622 (formerly Fogg 1622)
Diameter 28 mm
Condition Scraped on reverse.
Previous Editions

DO Seals 6, no. 11.2.


The Mother of God standing, wearing a chiton and maphorion, and holding Christ before her. A large cross potent with an elongated vertical shaft to left and right. Wreath border.


Bust of Phokas. Details indistinct. A circular inscription beginning at left. Wreath border.


[D(ominus) n(oster)] F[o]cas perp(etuus) aug(ustus).


Dominus noster Focas perpetuus augustus.

Our lord Phokas, eternal augustus.


The seals of Phokas are remarkable for being the first attempt to depict distinctive facial features. The details are inspired by the coins (for example, DOC 2.1:5a.1 [pl. 1]; MIB 2: Prägetabelle X). On the obverse of Phokas’s solidus, the emperor is depicted with a pointed beard, and strands of hair, sharply defined, frame the face. He wears a crown with a cross on circlet, and, in coins struck between 603 and 607, pendilia are absent. O often replaces D as the initial letter of the reverse inscription in coins struck between 602 and 607. For a detailed discussion of the criteria that Grierson followed in dating Phokas’s eastern solidi, see his “Solidi of Phocas and Heraclius,” 131–38.

Unlike BZS.1951.31.5.7 and BZS.1951.31.5.1623, and like BZS.1951.31.5.1621, here the lower portion of the cross potent's shaft is more elongated than the upper.

On the reverse the final letter of AVC has been carved as an upright bar. Whether he is bearded is uncertain, and he seems to be holding a globus cruciger in his right hand.