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Nikephoros I (802–3)?

Accession number BZS.1955.1.4285 (formerly DO 55.1.4285)
Diameter 39 mm
Previous Editions

DO Seals 6, no. 38.1; Zacos–Veglery, no. 43.


The Mother of God standing, wearing a chiton and maphorion, and holding Christ on her left arm. Her right leg is bent at the knee. Christ has a nimbus cruciger, and he holds a scroll in his right hand. Invocative monograms reading [Θ]εοτόκε βοήθει at left and right. No visible border.

[Θ]εοτόκε βοήθει


Bust of Nikephoros, bearded. He wears a crown and a chlamys pinned together with a fibula on his right shoulder, and holds a cross potent on a base in his right hand. Remains of a circular inscription at right. Linear border.


[Niciforos b]asileus Romaio[n].


Θεοτόκε βοήθει Niciforos basileus Romaion.

Mother of God, help Nikephoros, basileus of the Romans.


Nikephoros ruled from 802 to 811. In December of 803 he raised his son Staurakios to the rank of co-emperor. On gold coins issued when Nikephoros reigned alone the obverse shows the bearded bust of the emperor, holding a cross potent on base in his right hand and in his left an akakia (for example, DOC 3.1:1a.2 [pl. 15]).

The upper portion of the Mother of God’s body is disproportionately longer than the lower part. Christ’s body is stiffly frontal and is unusually tall. One wonders if the image of the Mother of God is modeled on a monumental icon that an artist viewed and copied from ground level.