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Church of Tarsos (sixth century)

Accession number BZS 1958.106.182
Diameter 19 mm
Previous Editions

DO Seals 5 no. 5.7; Laurent Corpus 5.2: no. 1536; Zacos-Veglery, no. 772.


Inscription of one line preceded and followed by a cross. No border visible.




Inscription of two lines, a cross above. No border visible.




Ἐκλησίας Ταρσοῦ.

(Seal of) the church of Tarsos.


This entry updates the reading of the obverse.

Tarsos was the most wealthy and powerful of the towns on the Cilician plain, and following its capture by the Arabs and use as a base for raids into  Byzantine territory, became the focus of Nikephoros Phokas’s eastern campaigns. The city was recaptured and was converted into an imperial kouratoreia, as well as the seat for a strategos, later under the authority of the doux of Antioch. By the end of the eleventh century, control passed into the hands of Armenian chieftains.

The seal "of the church of Tarsos" is one of several bearing this type of anonymous inscription (see also BZS.1947.2.187, BZS.1951.31.5.1987, and BZS.1955.1.5052). In addition to these, see Oikonomides, "The Anonymous Seal," one "of the holy church of Emesa" (J. W. Nesbitt, "Byzantine Lead Seals from the Vicinity of the Governor's Palace and Warehouse," 2, no. 10), and "of the church of Theoupolis" (Cheynet, Sceaux byzantins, no. 62). Oikonomides suggested that such seals were issued when the metropolitan was absent from his see or when the episcopal throne was vacant.