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Leo III and Constantine V (720–41)

Accession number BZS.1951.31.5.1643 (formerly Fogg 1643)
Diameter 35 mm
Condition Chipped and corroded.
Previous Editions

DO Seals 6, no. 29.1; Zacos–Veglery, no. 33 bis.


Half-length representation of Leo III, with a short beard and mustache, wearing a chlamys and crown with a cross. He holds a globus cruciger in his right hand and in his left an akakia. Remains of a circular inscription at right. Wreath border.

. . . ML

[D(omino) n(ostr)o Leon(i) p(erpetuo) a(ugusto)] mul(tos) [a(nnos)].(?)


Half-length representation of Constantine, beardless. He is shown with a youthful and much smaller head wearing a crown with a cross and a chlamys, and he holds a globus cruciger in his right hand. A small cross at right. Remains of a circular inscription at left. Indeterminate border.

N.CN. . .

D(ominus) n(oster) C[o]n[stantinus].


Domino nostro Leoni perpetuo augusto multos annos.
Dominus noster Constantinus.

Our lord Leo, eternal augustus, [reign] many years.
Our lord Constantine.


The two-year-old Constantine V became his father’s colleague on 25 March 720, and he appears alongside Leo on his coinage from this point forward.

It is important to note that on iconic seals issued during Leo’s joint reign with Constantine the Virgin disappears (see also BZS.1951.31.5.1628). One assumes that in limiting iconography to family members Leo wished to emphasize Constantine’s rights to succession, while at the same time promoting a program of iconoclastic decoration.

Zacos–Veglery read the circular inscription on the obverse as .NO[LE]O-NP[A]MUL. In fact it is impossible to see the letters NO[LE]O. There are traces of letters at left, and one could believe that the inscription ends with the letters MUL. The most certain letter is L. Far less problematic is the reading of the inscription on the reverse. Although Zacos and Veglery were inclined to print the legend as ...ST-....NU, one can discern quite readily at the beginning the letters C and N. Although one could debate letterforms, the fact is that stylistically and iconographically one is left only with the choice of attributing the seal to Leo III and Constantine V. See the article by N. Likhachev, “Sceaux de l’empereur Léon III l’Isaurien,” Byzantion 11 (1936): 472, and the seal reproduced from the collection of the Hermitage. On the obverse of the Hermitage specimen is a representation of Leo III wearing a crown and a chlamys and holding a globus cruciger in the r. hand; on the reverse appears Constantine similarly dressed and holding a globus cruciger in the r. hand. Both emperors are identified by readable inscriptions. Thus the emperors on our seals wear the same clothing and hold the same symbols of power as on the Hermitage specimen. We note that on Grierson’s class 2 follis of Constantinople (DOC 3.1:29d.3 [pl. 3]), attributed to the years 720–ca. 721, one finds a small cross to the right of Constantine’s bust.