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The imperial kommerkia of the provinces of the imperial Opsikion guarded by God (745/746)

Accession number BZS.1951.31.5.1741
Diameter 33 mm
Condition Broken; more than half missing.
Previous Editions

DO Seals 3, no. 39.41.
Zacos-Veglery, no. 263; cf. SBS 3 (1993) 89.

Obverse

Busts of two emperors holding in the middle a long cross (the ending of the horizontal arm is visible at the break); only one, wearing a chlamys, is preserved. No inscription or border visible.

Reverse

Inscription of seven lines. Indeterminate border.

β
κων
ερκι
ρχιων
φυλκ/
ικοψ
ι

Τῶν βασιλικῶν κομμερκίων τῶν ἐπαρχιῶν τοῦ θεοφυλάκτου βασιλικοῦ Ὀψικίου. Ἰνδικτιὼν ιδ'.

Translation

Τῶν βασιλικῶν κομμερκίων τῶν ἐπαρχιῶν τοῦ θεοφυλάκτου βασιλικοῦ Ὀψικίου. Ἰνδικτιὼν ιδ'.

(Seal of) the imperial kommerkia of the provinces of the imperial Opsikion guarded by God. Indiction 14.

Commentary

On the basis of the indiction, Zacos-Veglery rightly dated this seal to the years 745/746; the mention of imperial kommerkia suggests a date after 730. This specimen is very similar to other seals issued by Constantine V during his sole reign – when he was depicted together with his deceased father Leo III – and cannot by any means be dated after 751, when Constantine's son Leo IV began to be depicted on the kommerkia seals.

A similar, complete but corroded seal, maybe from the same boulloterion, was discovered in Sougdaia (Sudak) of the Crimea. See V. Šandrovskaja, "Die Funde der byzantinischen Bleisiegel in Sudak," SBS 3 (1993) 89.

Opsikion was one of the earliest themes of Byzantium; its name from the term obsequium (retinue), often called "imperial obsequium guarded by God." Its territory included many provinces and initially encompassed all northwestern Asia Minor; by the mid-eighth century it was subdivided, and the new themes of the Boukellarioi and of the Optimatoi appeared. All three names show that the origins of this theme are to be sought in the regiments of the imperial guard, and according to some scholars, to the milites praesentales of the fifth century.

The commander of Opsikion traditionally bore the titles of komes, probably because initially he was identical to the comes domesticorum. He is first attested in 626 (perhaps already in 615), and, because of his proximity to Constantinople (his residence was in Nicaea), he played an important role in imperial politics. As this happened regularly with all units of the imperial guard, the tagmata (Listes, 329), the second in command of the Opsikion was called for quite some time a topoteretes (cf. Zacos-Veglery, no. 1762). The province was organized as all other themes (with tourmarchai, anagrapheis, judges, protonotarioi, chartoularioi, strateutai [Laurent, Orghidan, no. 218], etc.), and, already in the ninth century, the commander was also called a strategos (see Listes, 264, footnote 23; Zacos, Seals II, no. 850; Seyrig, no. 191).

The littoral of the Opsikion was also part of the theme of Aigaion Pelagos.

See Pertusi, in De Them., 127-30; Winkelmann, Ämsterstruktur, 72-76, 119-20; ODB III, 1528-29; Haldon, Praetorians, passim, esp. 164 ff; T. Lounghis, "A Deo conservandum imperiale Obsequium," ByzSl 52 (1991) 54-60.

Accession number BZS.1951.31.5.1741
Diameter 33 mm
Condition Broken; more than half missing.
Previous Editions

DO Seals 3, no. 39.41.
Zacos-Veglery, no. 263; cf. SBS 3 (1993) 89.

Notes

Accession number BZS.1951.31.5.1741
Diameter 33 mm
Condition Broken; more than half missing.
Previous Editions

DO Seals 3, no. 39.41.
Zacos-Veglery, no. 263; cf. SBS 3 (1993) 89.

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