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N., spatharios and archon of Dalmatia (eighth/ninth century)

Accession number BZS.1958.106.3588
Diameter 18 mm
Condition Blank too small for die.
Previous Editions

DO Seals 1, no. 14.2.
Zacos-Veglery, no. 2637.


Cruciform invocative monogram (indeterminate type with a Φ at the center); visible in the two lower quarters: ΔΛΩ. No visible border.

Κύριε/Θεοτόκε βοήθει τῷ σῷ δούλῳ


Inscription. Wreath border.


.... σπαθαρίῳ καὶ ἄρχοντι Δαλματίας


Κύριε/Θεοτόκε βοήθει τῷ σῷ δούλῳ ... σπαθαρίῳ καὶ ἄρχοντι Δαλματίας.

Lord/Theotokos, help your servant ... spatharios and archon of Dalmatia.


The monogram of the obv. is problematic: Φεοτόκε βοήφει, as Zacos supposed (pl. 258, no. LIV), instead of Θεοτόκε βοήθει? Is this an error due to local phonetics, or should one turn this monogram 90 degrees in order to read it properly?

A Byzantine archon of Dalmatia is mentioned in the Uspenskij Taktikon (842-43: Listes, 57, line 12) and on several seals including perhaps Pančenko, no. 389. The toponym appears with the variants Δαλματία, Δελματία (cf. also Corinth XII, no. 2697), even Δερματία (DO Seals 1, no. 14.1). The territory encompassed by this designation was largely restricted to the Adriatic coast, a situation that continued into the eleventh century. Among the more prominent towns of Dalmatia were Kotor, Dubrovnik, Split, Trogir, and Zadar. Ferluga has suggested that the "archon" of Dalmatia was the "prior" of Zadar, the leading official of the most important town in the region in the ninth century (ibid., 143).

In Ferluga's view, Dalmatia was established as a theme with its own strategos in the early years of the reign of Basil I (867-886) and appears as such in all subsequent lists of precedence down to the late tenth century (Philotheos, Beneševič Taktikon, Escorial Taktikon, but not in De Them.). However, it is not impossible that a strategos of Dalmatia had existed (for a limited time?) in the first half of the ninth century, as we have some seals of this period (Sig., 205-6; doubts expressed by Seibt, JÖB 30 [1981] 338 ff; but note the form of letter Β) mentioning a Bryennios strategos of Dalmatia as well as a protomandator of Dalmatia who would have been a subordinate of the strategos (cf. Listes, 110 note 67). A Bryenas strategos is also mentioned in the letters of Theodore Stoudites (d. 826: PG 99, col. 1545), the mid-ninth century (De Adm. Imp., chap. 50, line 10); here Bryennios had become a family name. See Ferluga, Byzantium and idem, Dalmazia, passim; see also Winkelmann, Ämterstruktur, 116-17.