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George oikonomos (?) ton episkepson (?) (sixth/seventh century)

Accession number BZS.1958.106.1961
Diameter 26 mm
Field diameter 19 mm


Cruciform monogram. Wreath border.

γ - ε - ι - ρ - ο - υ - ω



Block monogram. Border of dots.

ι - κ - ν - ο - π - υ - ψ - ω

οἰκονόμου τῶν ἐπισκέψων


Γεωργίου οἰκονόμου (?) τῶν ἐπισκέψων (?).

(Seal of) George oikonomos of the episkepson.


The reverse block monogram is difficult to decipher, and leaves us with a conundrum in the the clear presence of a ψ. The reading of this monogram as a misspelling of Ὀψικίου as Ὠψσικίου is possible, but unlikely, especially in this period and without the presence of an office such as komes, beyond the fact that place names such as Opsikion are almost never depicted in block monograms.

The resolution here presented perfectly fits the strange letters within the monogram, but presents an important chronological problem. We have no attestation of the this office in this period. The dating of this seal cannot be pushed much later, as block monograms are not attested after the seventh century, while this office seems to fit with the middle Byzantine system. The office of episkeptites is attested as early as the ninth century, for example in the Kleterologion of Philotheos, but no earlier. What we could have here is an early Greek form of an office typically written in this period in a more Latinate form, such as a curator of an imperial estate; indeed, the monogram could even read κουρατόρος instead of οἰκονόμου, although this is unlikely, as it would require a Ρ to be found within the upper arm of the Κ and the top bar of the Σ, and would not account for the Ν. This is the best resolution of the monogram that can be offered, and perhaps shows the early attestation of this office.