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Romanos I and Constantine VII (931–44)

Accession number BZS.1951.31.5.1656 (formerly Fogg 1656)
Diameter 25 mm
Condition No channel.
Previous Editions

DO Seals 6, no. 61.1; Zacos–Veglery, no. 67 (mistakenly listed in their reference table as no. 65).


Half-length representation of Christ, wearing a tunic and himation. He raises his right hand in blessing and holds a book in his left. He has a cross behind his head. Circular inscription. Border of dots.


Iηsus Xristus.


Two half-length figures: at left, Romanos I, bearded, wearing a crown surmounted by a cross and a loros; at right, Constantine VII, wearing a crown surmounted by a cross and a chlamys. They hold between them a patriarchal cross. Circular inscription. Border of dots.


Roman(os) et Const(antinos) basil(is) R(omaion).


Iηsus Xristus.
Romanos et Constantinos basilis Romaion.

Jesus Christ
Romanos and Constantine, basileis of the Romans.


The absence from this seal of Christophoros, Romanos’s son and, for the years 921–931, co-emperor, suggests that it either pre-dates his coronation or post-dates his death. The placement on the reverse of our seal of Romanos at left is the same as on a gold coin published in BNC 2 (Cp/AV//10 [pl. 77/10]), a specimen Morrisson dates to the period 931–44. Grierson (DOC 3.2:9) has also published a bronze pattern coin showing Christ en buste, on the reverse of which appears, at left, a bust of Romanos and, at right, a smaller bust of Constantine, which he dates to ca. 930.

The cover of the book that Christ holds is decorated with a pellet enclosed by a circle. This is the same decoration appearing on the gold coin (DOC 3.2:10.2 [pl. 36]).

Zacos and Veglery note that the specimen is a tessera and may have been used for charitable purposes (see Zacos–Veglery, no. 34, where the editors list similar objects from different reigns).