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Phokas (603–7)

Accession number BZS.1951.31.5.7 (formerly Fogg 7)
Diameter 27 mm
Field diameter 20 mm
Condition Chipped.
Previous Editions

DO Seals 6, no. 10.1; Zacos–Veglery, no. 8a.


The Mother of God standing, wearing a chiton and maphorion, and holding Christ before her. A large cross potent with an elongated vertical shaft at left and right. Wreath border.


Bust of Phokas with a pointed beard and shaggy hair, wearing a crown with a cross on top and a chlamys fastened with a fibula on the right shoulder. A circular inscription beginning at left. No visible border.


D(ominus) n(oster) Focas [p]erp(etuus) aug(ustus).


Dominus noster Focas perpetuus augustus.

Our lord Phokas, eternal augustus.


The seals of Phokas are remarkable for being the first attempt to depict distinctive facial features. The details are inspired by the coins (for example, DOC 2.1:5a.1 [pl. 1]; MIB 2: Prägetabelle X). On the obverse of Phokas’s solidus, the emperor is depicted with a pointed beard, and strands of hair, sharply defined, frame the face. He wears a crown with a cross on circlet, and, in coins struck between 603 and 607, pendilia are absent. O often replaces D as the initial letter of the reverse inscription in coins struck between 602 and 607. For a detailed discussion of the criteria that Grierson followed in dating Phokas’s eastern solidi, see his “Solidi of Phocas and Heraclius,” 131–38.

On this and BZS.1951.31.5.1623 the vertical shaft of the cross potent on the obverse is elongated both at bottom and at top. A different situation is found on BZS.1951.31.5.1621 and BZS.1951.31.5.1622.