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(The monastery or diaconate of) St. Constantine of Germanikeia (seventh century)

Accession number BZS 1958.106.362
Diameter 25 mm
Field diameter 19 mm
Condition Corroded
Previous Editions

DO Seals 5 no. 2.1; Laurent, Corpus 5.3: no. 1922 (with a different reading; see commentary).


Bust of an emperor, no doubt St. Constantine, wearing a crown surmounted by a small cross and holding a globus (right hand) with the Christogram on top. No epigraphy visible. Wreath border.


Inscription of five lines. Wreath border.


Τοῦ ἁγίου Κωνσταντίνου Γερμανικία(ς).


Τοῦ ἁγίου Κωνσταντίνου Γερμανικία(ς).

(Seal of the diaconate of) St. Constantine of Germanikeia.


Germanikeia (today Maraş) is located in the Antitaurus range northeast of Tarsos and Adana. Its strategic position on the eastern approaches to Cilicia made the town a prime target in the Arab-Byzantine wars. Taken and destroyed by the Arabs during the first wave of invasions (possibly in 637, no later than 656), Germanikeia was recovered by the Byzantines in 683, and thereafter changed hands several times before being conquered by Nikephoros Phokas in 962. See DHGE 20, cols. 943–60; ODB 2:845.

Laurent proposed a different (erroneous) reading, Κωνσταντ(ίνου) [τ]οῦ Γερμ[α]νικίου, as he interpreted the last word as the epithet Γερμανικός used by Roman emperors. He dated the seal to the seventh/eighth centuries, and listed it under the diaconates of Constantinople.

The editors of DO Seals 5 argue, however, based on a secure reading, that this seal represents the sole attestation of a monastery or diaconate of St. Constantine of Germanikeia. For purposes of dating, features of the portrait on the obverse invite comparison with contemporary coins, particularly with a solidus issued by Heraclius (type IV A[d], in DOC 2.1:259, illustrated on Plate IX). The hairstyle, with the sides curling upwards, and the globus cruciger held in his right hand, correspond with the same hairstyle and globus cruciger displayed by our seal. If Grierson’s proposed dating of the coin (636/37?) is correct, then our seal would have been struck shortly before Germanikeia fell to the Arabs in the mid-seventh century. On the relationship of this seal to the cult of St. Constantine, see J. W. Nesbitt, “Alexander the Monk’s text of Helena’s discovery of the Cross (BHG 410),” 39.