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Leo protospatharios and strategos of Mamistra (?) (tenth/eleventh century)

Accession number BZS 1947.2.2129
Diameter 22 mm
Condition Broken along the channel, one half remains.
Previous Editions

DO Seals 5 no. 3.1


Bust of St. Theodore, holding spear in his right hand. Traces of a vertical inscription on the right: Δ||ΡΟ [Ὁ ἅγιος Θεό]δωρο(ς). Border of dots.


Inscription of five lines. Border of dots.


Κ(ύρι)ε β(οή)θ(ει) Λἐ(οντι) (πρωτο)σπαθ(αρίῳ [(καὶ)] στρατ[ηγ(ῷ)] Μαμ[ίσ]τ[ρας].


Κύριε βοήθει Λἐοντι πρωτοσπαθαρίῳ καὶ στρατηγῷ Μαμίστρας.

Lord, help Leo protospatharios and strategos of Mamistra.


Mamistra (better known as Mopsuestia; today called Misis) was the third great town in the Cilician plain after Tarsos and Adana. Upon its capture by the Byzantines in July 965, Mamistra became the seat of a strategos (Listes, 359); a seal published by Cheynet indicates that the town became the seat of a katepano in the middle of the eleventh century (“Sceaux byzantins,” no. 55). Mamistra remained under Byzantine control until 1072 when, along with Tarsos, it was taken over by Philaretos Brachamios. See Hild-Hellenkemper, Kilikien und Isaurien, 351–59; Dagron-Feissel, Inscriptions de Cilicie, 129–56; ODB 2:1408; and Todt, “Region,” 397–98.

The unusual abbreviation of the personal name makes the identification of the seal’s owner problematic. A letter is missing at the beginning of the second line of the reverse. It is possible that the line to the upper right of the E, which becomes part of the horizontal bar above ΘV is meant to be an abbreviation mark. In addition, the right-most line of the first letter, which is vertical, suggests a name beginning in Π, Μ or Ν, although this is far from certain. The editors of DO Seals 5 stated that the most likely solution is [Λ]έ(οντι), but that [Θ]ε(οδώρῳ), corresponding to the saint depicted on the obverse, or [Π]έ(τρῳ), are also possible. This entry maintains that identification, while noting as well the new reading.

Where the placename is concerned, we read the broken letter in the fourth line as M rather than as K, and we discern the remains of a T at the beginning of the fifth line. We therefore consider the reading Mamistra reasonably secure, although the possibility remains that we are dealing with a family name.