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The monastery of Alexios (eleventh century)

Accession number BZS.1958.106.323
Diameter 22 mm
Field diameter 18 mm
Condition Rusted.
Previous Editions

DO Seals 5 no. 38.1; Laurent, Corpus 5.3: no. 1897 (slightly different reading).


Half-length bust of the Mother of God holding Christ in her left arm. Christ holds a scroll in his left hand, and his right hand is supported in a sling formed by his robe. Visible at left and at top right: Μ̅Θ̅ : Μ(ήτηρ) Θ(εοῦ). A circular inscription, beginning at 9 o'clock. Border of dots.


Θ(εοτό)κε β(οή)θ(ει) τ[ῷ δούλ]ῳ σου


Inscription of five lines preceded by decoration. Border of dots.


Φύλαττε σὴν μονὴν Ἀλεξίου Κόρη


Θεοτόκε βοήθει τῷ δούλῳ σου. Φύλαττε σὴν μονὴν Ἀλεξίου, Κόρη.

Mother of God, help your servant. Virgin, guard your monastery of Alexios.


This seal in all probability belonged to the monastery established by Patriarch Alexios the Stoudite (1025–1043). Skylitzes (429.18–24) reports that when Alexios died on 20 February, and was succeeded by Michael Keroularios, the emperor Constantine IX determined that there was a sum of gold equal to twenty-five kentenaria hoarded at the "monastery of Alexios" (τοῦ Ἀλεξίου μονῇ). The monastery overlooked the Bosphoros, but it is unclear if it was sited on the European or the Asiatic side (Janin, Églises, 19).

The inscription on the reverse comprises a twelve-syllable verse. The end portion of the circular inscription on the obverse is problematic. The letters omega and sigma are certain, the omicron-upsilon ligature is reasonably certain. Laurent read: [Θ(εοτό)]κε [βοήθ(ει) τ]ῷ [σ]ῷ δού[λῳ...].