Anonymous (Justin I [519 or 522?–27])
DO Seals 6 no. 3.1; Zacos-Veglery, no. 1 bis (Justin I?)
Bust of an emperor turned three-quarters to the right, wearing a plumed helmet with a diadem and a cuirass. One can discern the fingers of the right hand grasping what should be the shaft of a spear held transversely behind the head. In the left hand the figure holds a shield decorated with a stylized representation of a horseman striking a fallen enemy. No epigraphy. Wreath border.
The representations on the obverse and reverse of our seal very closely resemble the iconography found on gold coinage of Constantinople issued under Justin I between 519 (or 522) and 527. During the reign, the characteristic identifying the reverse female figure as Victory, a high girdle below the breasts, was substituted by a tunic, therefore identifying the figure as an angel. See the remarks of Grierson, Byzantine Coins, 52; cf. BNC 1:35. The change reflects, as Hahn observes, the transformation of a pagan representation into a Christian one. Bellinger dated this change to 519; Hahn (Money, 32) prefers a date of 522. In addition to this, that the angel on the reverse of this seal stands on what can only be considered an exergual line is a further reflection that the seal’s design is coin inspired.
- Catalogue of Byzantine Seals at Dumbarton Oaks and in the Fogg Museum of Art, Volume 6: Emperors, Patriarchs of Constantinople, Addenda
- Byzantine Lead Seals, vol. 1
- Byzantine Coins
- Catalogue des monnaies byzantines de la Bibliothèque nationale
- Catalogue of the Byzantine Coins in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection and in the Whittemore Collection, vol. 1, Anastasius I to Maurice (491–602)
- Money of the Incipient Byzantine Empire