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Romanos imperial protospatharios and strategos of Mesopotamia (tenth/eleventh century)

Accession number BZS.1951.31.5.1218
Diameter 24 mm
Condition Weakly imprinted.
Previous Editions

DO Seals 4, no. 55.13.

N. Oikonomides, "Η αυτοκράτειρα Αγία Σοφία," in Θυμίαμα στη μνήμη της Λασκαρίνας Μπούρα (Athens, 1994) 235-38.


St. Sophia represented as an empress, wearing a crown and dress reminiscent of a simplified loros but different from it. Her hands are open before her, in a gesture similar to the Virgin’s. On either side a vertical inscription: η|α|γ-.|ο|φ : Ἡ ἁγ(ία) [Σ]οφ(ία). Circular inscription within a border of dots:


[Κύριε] βοήθε[ι τ]ῷ σ[ῷ δού]λῳ


Inscription of five lines. Border of dots.


Ῥομα[ν]ῷ β(ασιλικῷ) (πρωτο)σπαθ(αρίῳ) (καὶ) στρατ[η]γῷ Μεσ[οπο]τα[μ(ίας)]


Κύριε βοήθει τῷ σῷ δούλῳ Ῥομανῷ βασιλικῷ πρωτοσπαθαρίῳ καὶ στρατηγῷ Μεσοποταμίας.

Lord, help your servant Romanos, imperial protospatharios and strategos of Mesopotamia.


This representation of St. Sophia is quite uncommon, because this saint was not an empress. Moreover, on the present seal, the saint’s crown and dress bring to mind sixth-century models, particularly the portrait of empress Theodora in the mosaic of San Vitale of Ravenna. Oikonomides supposes that this might be a representation of empress Sophia of the sixth century, much remembered for her piety, who could somehow have been identified with St. Sophia the Wonderworker (18 December). For a detailed treatment, see Oikonomides, loc. cit.