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Niketas imperial spatharokandidatos and archon ton Bicheton (?) (ninth century)

Accession number BZS.1951.31.5.2606
Diameter 36 mm
Condition One-half missing.
Previous Editions

DO Seals 2, no. 10.1.


Cruciform invocative monogram; in the quarters: ..Σ|..Λ. Wreath border.

Κύριε or Θεοτόκε βοήθει τῷ σῷ δούλῳ


Inscription of five lines. No visible border.


Νηκήτᾳ βασιλικῷ σπαθαροκανδιδάτ καὶ ἄρχοντι τῶν Βηχητῶν (?)


Κύριε or Θεοτόκε βοήθει τῷ σῷ δούλῳ βασιλικῷ σπαθαροκανδιδάτῳ καὶ ἄρχοντι τῶν Βηχητῶν (?).

Lord or Mother of God, help your servant Niketas, imperial spatharokandidatos and archon of the Bichetai.


The restitution of the last line is admittedly not secure, but it seems to us quite plausible, especially in light of seals with similar inscriptions and because our seal belonged to an archon, whose authority was defined by a name in the genitive plural.

We know of 9th-century seals which belonged to archontes τῶν Βηχητῶν, some of whom had Christian names and received imperial titles: Sig., 731 = Lihačev, Molivdovully, 70-71, pl. LX,3 (M-7958); Zacos-Veglery, no. 1877 [named Esages?]. Two belonged to an archon Βηχητῶν Ἑλλάδος (Mordtmann, Ἑλλ. Φιλολ. Σύλλ. 17 [1886] Suppl., 149, no. 19; Revue des Etudes Juives 140/3-4 [1981] 313, note 41 (unpublished 10th-century seal, no. 355, of the Institut français des Etudes byzantines, Paris) that tells us in which theme to locate the Bichetai, whom we have not managed to identify, however. The name must indicate a people, as it always appears in the genitive plural (Slavic etymology with a Greek ending? cf. Ezeritai, Belegezitai). It is unclear to us whether the name Bichetai should be considered as another form of Thebitai (cf. Bees, Zur Sigillographie, 202-3). Cf. also DO Seals 2, no. 8.2.