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Niketas "Neos" Xylinites, sebastophoros and strategos of Samos (eleventh century)

Accession number BZS.1958.106.5516
Diameter 30 mm
Field diameter 27 mm
Previous Editions

DO Seals 2, no. 44.8.
A translation of the seal's legend is noted in Laurent, Corpus II, no. 435.


The Virgin standing on a suppedion, raising her hands up to her right, where traces of the hand of God are visible. Sigla: ̅ΘΥ̅: Μήτηρ Θεοῦ. Border of dots.


Inscription of eight lines preceded by an ornament. Border of dots.



Σφραγὶς Νικήτα σεβαστοφόρου πέλω Σάμου στρατηγοῦ τοῦ Νέου Ξυλινίτου


Σφραγὶς Νικήτα σεβαστοφόρου πέλω Σάμου στρατηγοῦ τοῦ Νέου Ξυλινίτου.

I am the seal of Niketas Xylinites the younger, sebastophoros and strategos of Samos.


Two twelve-syllable verses. Same owner as the following seal. The name Niketas Xylinites is not recorded in Guilland's list of "sebastophoroi" published in REB 21 (1963) 199 ff (= Guilland, Titres, XVI). He belonged to the immediate entourage of Empress Theodora (cf. DO Seals 2, no. 44.9).

The adjective τοῦ νέου accommodates the metrics but has to be somehow interpreted. When used with emperors, the adjective ὁ νέος usually indicates a second person with the same name and is usually understood as "the second"; compare, for example, Ῥωμανὸς ὁ Νέος concerning Romanos II (Skylitzes, 248) or Βασίλειος ὁ Νέος in the Marciana Psalter concerning Basil II (V. Lazarev, Storia della pittura bizantina [Torino, 1967], pl. 130). In the present case we have to imagine that another Niketas Xylinites was previously at the service of the palace, and then came the owner of our seal who, in order to distinguish himself, added to his name the adjective "the new one." This is interesting because it shows that people of the same family succeeded each other in the same service, and it says something about the quasi-dynastic concept of the family in 11th century Byzantium.