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Basil . . ., imperial notarios and grand kourator of Derzene, Rachaba (?), and Chavzizin (eleventh century)

Accession number BZS.1951.31.5.1733
Diameter 33 mm
Field diameter 25 mm
Condition Deformed.
Previous Editions

DO Seals 4, no. 59.1.


Bust of the Virgin holding her hands open before her. Sigla: Μ̅ρ-θ̅υ : Μ(ήτη)ρ Θ(εο)ῦ. Circular inscription within a border of dots:


Θ(εοτό)κε βοήθ(ει)


Inscription of seven lines, a decoration below. Border of dots.


Βασιλ(είῳ) β(ασλικῷ) νοταρίο (καὶ) μ(ε)γ(ἀλῳ) κουράτωρ(ι) Δερζιν(ῆς), Ῥαχά[β]ας (καὶ) Χαυζιζίου ὁ ....αλοπ..ο..


Θεοτόκε βοήθει Βασιλείῳ βασλικῷ νοταρίο καὶ μεγἀλῳ κουράτωρι Δερζινῆς, Ῥαχάβας καὶ Χαυζιζίου ὁ ....αλοπ..ο...

Mother of God, help Basil ....alop..o..., imperial notarios and grand kourator of Derzene, Rachaba, and Chavzizin.


The reading of the geographical name at the end of line 4 and the beginning of line 5 (reverse): the letters ραχα are fairly clear and the first visible letter in the next line appears to be of triangular shape, inevitably an α, since it is followed by a σ. The name Ῥαχάβ is attested; cf. the κάστρον Ῥαχάβ mentioned in the Grottaferrata version of Digenes Akrites, ed. J. Mavrogordato (Oxford, 1956), 50, l. 111. In other versions it appears as Ρουχά, or Ραχέ. It is usually identified with Edessa of Osroene (Urfa), or then with Raqqah of Syria, but all this is speculative as the resemblance of the placename does not justify a secure reading. See the recent discussion in Digenes Akrites, ed. R. Beaton and D. Ricks (Variorum, 1993), 18-19, 43, 87. This is not the only case where a seal comes to confirm a placename attested in the Grottaferrata version of Digenis: see the case of Hexakomia, in Listes, 360 ( and infra, paragr. 62). Another possibility is Ραχά[τ]ας, i.e. the Paulician fortress Ραχάτ that Basil I conquered (Theophanes Continuatus, 270; cf. Honigmann, Ostgrenze, 60). But this will have been much to the west of Derzene and consequently this identification sounds improbable.

Of the three placenames mentioned on this seal, only one, Derzene/Tercan, can be located with certainty. The two others must most probably be sought in the vicinity.

The territory of Chavzizin (Hafgig) is situated at Bingöl Dag, to the south (?) of Theodosioupolis. It was conquered after 940. Cf. Honigmann, Ostgrenze, 194-196; Listes, 361; B. Arutjunova-Fidanjan, Armjano-vizantijskaja kontaktnaja zona (X-XI vv.) (Moscow, 1994), 29; see now Sinclair II, 237 ff, 525.