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Sermon (?) Armenes (?), imperial spatharokandidatos and tourmarches of Strobilos (?) (tenth/eleventh century)

Accession number BZS.1951.31.5.1917
Diameter 1 mm


Patriarchal cross on three steps, resting atop a pellet. Decorative X at the crossings of the vertical and horizontal elements. Fleurons rise from the base of the cross to above the first transverse bar. Decorations in the upper left and right fields. Circular invocative inscription. Row of large dots between two linear borders.

[K(ύρι)]ε βοήθε[ι τ]ῷ σῷ δο[ύ]λ(ῳ)


Inscription of six lines, followed by decoration. Indeterminate border.

....μον(ῷ) β(ασιλικῷ) σ[π]αθ(αρο)κανδι[δ(άτῳ)] (καὶ) τουρμαρ[χ(ῃ)] τοῦ Στρο[β(ίλου)] τ(ῷ) Ἀρμέν[η]


Kύριε βοήθει τῷ σῷ δούλῳ ....μονῷ βασιλικῷ σπαθαροκανδιδάτῳ καὶ τουρμαρχῃ τοῦ Στροβίλου τῷ Ἀρμένη.

Lord, help your servant ....mon Armenes, imperial spatharokandidatos and tourmarches of Strobilos.


The reading of the first line is difficult. It begins with two lunate letters, sigma and epsilon being the most likely candidates. Sermon is a possibility: there is a lord of Sirmium (ὁ τοῦ Σιρμίου κρατῶν) named Σέρμων known from Skylitzes' account of Basil II's reign (Skyltizes, 365.15–366.30; PmbZ #27058).

The fifth and sixth lines present further problems. On the one hand, Τ,ΑΡΜΕΝ invites us to identify this individual as a tourmarches of the Armeniakon theme. However, on the line preceding we have in the genitive a further element: ΤΟΥΣΤ.... Is the individual a tourmarch for two areas? Or is the sixth line indicating either family or affiliation, with the Τ an abbrevation not of τῶν but τῷ? "The Armenian" as been suggested as a solution, but the surnames Armenes and Armenopoulos are also attested in the eleventh century. The former, although its known members are only known from Athonite records, is the most likely of the two, and is given here.

As for the identification of the region over which this tourmarches exercised his authority, there are likely five letters. The first are clear. After that, we can see traces of the lower right portion of a round letter, likely an omicron or theta. This leaves little room for a letter between, which in any case would have to be either a rho or a vowel. There is very faint trace of a vertical element following the tau, leaving us only iota or rho as options: ΣΤΙΘ. or ΣΤΡΟ.. Even with allowance for iotacism, there are no real options for the former, while the latter immediately suggests Strobilos, the site of a port and fortress in southwest Asia Minor, for which two other tourmarchs are known (BZS.1951.31.5.1971 and BZS.1958.106.5080).

It goes without saying that this reading is conjectural. A better preserved parallel specimen would clarify the many points of doubt.

Accession number BZS.1951.31.5.1917
Diameter 1 mm