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Constantine IV (681–85)

Accession number BZS.1955.1.4264 (formerly DO 55.1.4264)
Diameter 30 mm
Condition Chipped.
Previous Editions

DO Seals 6, no. 23.2; Zacos–Veglery, no. 22c. For similar seals, see Likhachev, “Nekotorye,” 521–22, figs. 53 and 54.


Half-length representation of Constantine IV, bearded, head turned slightly to the right. He wears a crown with a plume and ribbons, a cuirass, and a chlamys. He wears his hair long at the sides and curled, and his sidelocks at right are combed downward and outward. He holds in the right hand a spear behind his head and in his left hand a shield decorated with a horseman device. No epigraphy. Wreath border.


Large potent cross. No epigraphy. No border


Grierson has argued that Constantine deposed his brothers Herakleios and Tiberios, at least for the final time, in 681. Prior to that date he issued gold coins decorated on the obverse with a bearded bust of Constantine and on the obverse with a cross-on-steps flanked by Herakleios at left and Tiberios at right.  Subsequently, the reverse depicted on the cross-on-steps. Since no corulers appear, this entry follows Zacos and Veglery in assigned this seal to the period of 681–85 (DOC 2.2:15d [class 4]; MIB 3: Prägetabelle 8, no. 10).

Both Constantine’s coins and seals set aside an austere depiction in favor of a heroic type, one that has its roots in imperial depictions of the fifth and sixth centuries. Its last appearance was during the early years of the reign of Justinian I. Morrisson has suggested that the type may have been revived due to ideological reasons that influenced Constantine’s decision to bestow on a son born in 669 the name Justinian (BNC 1: p. 374).

Constantine’s seals are remarkable for the replacement of the Virgin with a cross potent. As Seibt observes, the cross, which symbolizes Christ’s triumph over death, may serve as a victory motif (Seibt–Zarnitz, 32, and Koltsida-Makri, “Representation of the Cross,” 45–46).

In contrast with BZS.1958.106.544, the bust is much larger and in higher relief. Still, the details of dress are poorly executed when compared with gold coins of the Constantinopolitan mint. The vertical bars of all the crosses potent in this section have lower sections longer than their upper ones.