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

Accession number BZS.1947.2.1085
Diameter 31 mm
Field diameter 24 mm
Previous Editions

DO Seals 3, no. 99.6.
Laurent, Corpus II, no. 938.

Obverse

St. Michael standing, holding a sword over his right shoulder and the sheath in his left hand at his side. Vertical inscription: Ο ΑΡ|ΜΟ|ΧΟ|ΝΙ|ΑΤ|..: Ὁ ἀρχάγγελος Μιχαὴλ ὁ Χονιάτης. Border of dots.

Reverse

Inscription of seven lines. Border of dots.

ΚΕ̅,Θ,
Ι̅ΝΕΛΛΙ
ΣΙΜ,ΑΕΣΤΙΑ
ΡΛΔΟΜΕ
ΣΤΙΚ,ΤΝΣΧ
ΛΝΤΗΣΑ
ΝΑΤΟΛ,

Κύριε βοήθει Ἰωάννῃ νωβελλισίμ πρωτοβεστιαρίῳ καὶ μεγάλῳ δομεστίκ τῶν σχολῶν τῆς Ἀνατολῆς

Translation

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

Lord, help John nobellisimos, protovestiarios, and megas domestikos of the Schools of the East.

Commentary

It would appear certain (as it did to Laurent) that this seal and BZS.1958.106.3248 belonged to the same person, who when changing his 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) suggests 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 titles 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 the aforementioned BZS.1958.106.3248 invites one to think of 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 famous representation of Isaakios I brandishing a sword on his coins and seals (cf. Grierson, Catalogue III/2, pl. LXIII, 2.1, 2.4, 2.5; Zacos-Veglery, no. 86). The question remains open.

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.1947.2.1085
Diameter 31 mm
Field diameter 24 mm
Previous Editions

DO Seals 3, no. 99.6.
Laurent, Corpus II, no. 938.

Notes

Accession number BZS.1947.2.1085
Diameter 31 mm
Field diameter 24 mm
Previous Editions

DO Seals 3, no. 99.6.
Laurent, Corpus II, no. 938.