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John nobellisimos, protovestiarios and grand domestikos of the Schools of the East (eleventh century)

Accession number BZS.1958.106.3248
Diameter 33 mm
Field diameter 29 mm
Previous Editions

DO Seals 3, no. 99.7.
Laurent, Corpus II, no. 937.

Obverse

Two standing saints. Left, St. Michael, holding a sword over his right shoulder and the sheath on his lap. Vertical inscription on either side: Ο|Ρ,|Τ|Η|Λ|Α|Τ|ΗΟ ΑΡ|ΜΙ : Ὁ ἀρχάγγελος Μιχαήλ ὁ στρατηλάτης. Right, St. Demetrios holding a spear and shield, both resting on the ground. A vertical inscription: Ο|ΔΗ|ΜΗ|ΤΡ|Ι|Ο: Ὁ ἅγιος Δημήτριος. Border of mixed pellets and dashes.

Reverse

Inscription of eight lines. Border of mixed pellets and dashes.

ΚΕ̅,Θ,
ΤΣΔΛ,
Ι̅ΝΩΕΛΛΙΣΙ
Μ,Α ,ΕΣΤΙΑΡΙ
,ΛΔΟΜΕ

ΣΤΙΚ,ΤΝΣΧΟ
ΛΝΤΗΣΑΝΑ
ΤΟ..Σ

Κύριε βοήθει τῷ σῷ δούλ Ἰωάννῃ νωβελλισίμῳ πρωτοβεστιαρίῳ καὶ μεγάλῳ δομεστίκ τῶν σχολῶν τῆς Ἀνατολῆς

Translation

Κύριε βοήθει τῷ σῷ δούλῳ Ἰωάννῃ νωβελλισίμῳ πρωτοβεστιαρίῳ καὶ μεγάλῳ δομεστίκῳ τῶν σχολῶν τῆς Ἀνατολῆς.

Lord, help your servant John nobellisimos, protovestiarios, and grand domestikos of the Schools of the East.

Commentary

It appears certain (as it did to Laurent) that this seal and BZS.1947.2.1085 belonged to the same person, who when changing hsi boulloterion chose to modify the obverse but retained the image of St. Michael of Chonai.

The identification of the owner is open to discussion. Two propositions have been made:

(a) Guilland (Recherches I, 406) suggested John Komnenos, who was appointed by his brother, Isaac I Komnenos (1057-59), to be kouropalates and grand domestikos of the Schools of the West; the identification can be questioned since none of the title mentioned by the historian and engraved on a seal (Zacos-Veglery, no. 2681bis) coincide with those appearing on our seal (cf. Kühn, Armee, 154).

(b) Laurent proposes the protovestiarios John, who was given high military commands by Nikephoros III Botaneiates, as well as by Alexios I Komnenos. Yet again, no source tells us that John's title had ever been grand domestikos, and it is very improbable that in his time a grand domestikos of the East even existed, since Asia Minor was then (1078 and afterwards) practically in the hands of the Turks. Cf. Oikonomides, Évolution, 142-43.

The iconography of the seal is also ambivalent. The addition of St. Demetrios on this seal recalls the times of the first Komnenoi when this saint had become very fashionable with the military commanders (he appears on the seals of Nikephoros Botaneiates himself, of Alexios Komnenos grand domestikos, of John Axouchos grand domestikos, etc.). On the other hand, the image of St. Michael is very close to the well-known representation of Isaakios I brandishing a sword on his coins and seals (cf. Grierson, CatalogueIII/2, pl. LXIII, 2.1, 2.4, 2.5; Zacos-Veglery, no. 86).

From an administrative point of view, the term Anatole was used until the 10th century to indicate (a) the territories that had previously belonged to the praefectura praetorio per Orientem that is, essentially, all the themes of Asia Minor together with those of Thrace and Macedonia; or, more realistically, (b) the territories situated to the east of Constantinople, that is, Asia Minor. In the 10th century the army command of the East was separated from that of the West (that is, Europe), Listes, 329, 341-42; cf. Oikonomides, Évolution, 141-42 and AP 35 [1978] 300, 328-29. The seals published here (and some others, such as the one of the stratopedarches of the East: Zacos-Veglery, no. 2780; Lihačev, Molivdovuly, 104, pl. LXIII,9; Seyrig, no. 159; or the hikanatoi of the East: Seyrig, no. 154) show that in the 10th and eleventh centuries the entity called the East comprised only military commands.

It should be noted, however, that in some cases the term Anatole seems to have been used to indicate a strategos of the Anatolikoi (cf. Winkelmann, Ämterstruktur, 78-79); and several civilian officials defined as ton Anatolikon could well wave authority over territories covering the East, well beyond the boundaries of the theme (see DO Seals 3, § 86, nos. 86.9, 86.17, 86.34).

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Accession number BZS.1958.106.3248
Diameter 33 mm
Field diameter 29 mm
Previous Editions

DO Seals 3, no. 99.7.
Laurent, Corpus II, no. 937.

Notes

Accession number BZS.1958.106.3248
Diameter 33 mm
Field diameter 29 mm
Previous Editions

DO Seals 3, no. 99.7.
Laurent, Corpus II, no. 937.