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Michael III (856–67)

Accession Number:
BZS.1947.2.415 (formerly DO 47.2.415)

Previous Editions

DO Seals 6, no. 49.3.
Zacos-Veglery, no. 56.


35 mm
Two halves with loss of metal along the channel.


Michael III (856–67)

Half-length representation of Christ, bearded with a cross behind the head, wearing a tunic and himation. He raises his right hand in blessing and holds in his left a book with a cover ornamented with four rows of pellets, two pellets in each row. Circular inscription. No visible border.


[Iηs]us X[r]istos.


Michael III (856–67)

Half-length representation of Michael III, wearing a loros and crown surmounted by a cross, and holding a labarum in his right hand. Circular inscription. No visible border.


Miχaη[l i]mper(ator) basil(eus).


Iηsus Xristos.
Miχaηl imperator basileus.

Jesus Christ.
Michael, imperator [and] basileus.



After Theodora’s fall from power in 856 Michael appears alone, wearing a loros, on the reverse of his gold coinage (DOC 3.1:3.1 [pl. 28]).

Zacos and Veglery optimistically read the circular inscription on the obverse as IhSUSX[R]ISTOS*: Iηsus Xristos. In their discussion of this specimen they erroneously describe the decoration of the labarum as consisting of five pellets. In fact the ornament is a simple cross composed of four pellets. On folles that Grierson assigns to the years 866–67 Michael is identified as IMPERAT. Grierson (DOC 3.1: p. 456; see also note 17) repeats the argument that the reason for the revival of the title was to show that the imperial court was fully acquainted with the Latin language.


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