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Theophano (959–69)

Accession Number:
BZS.1955.1.4301 (formerly DO 55.1.4301)

Previous Editions

DO Seals 6, no. 65.1; Zacos–Veglery, no. 72a. For a similar specimen, but from a different boulloterion, see Zacos–Veglery, no. 72b.


27 mm
21 mm


Theophano (959–69)

Half-length representation of the Mother of God, orans, wearing a chiton and maphorion. Circular inscription




Theophano (959–69)

Half-length representation of Theophano, wearing a crown with a cross and jeweled band decorated along the upper edge with globules. She is dressed in a loros, and holds in her right hand a globus surmounted by a trefoil ornament and in her left a scepter. Circular inscription. Border of dots.


Θeofanou auγoust(a).


Θeofanou auγousta.

Mother of God.
Theophano, augusta.



Theophano was the wife of Romanos II (959–63) and of Nikephoros II (963–69). Romanos II left two sons, Basil II and Constantine VIII. During Theophano’s brief regency they were nominal emperors; during the reign of Nikephoros II they were colleagues. The dating adopted by this entry is therefore the broadest possible.

Zacos and Veglery point out that, although this seal may date to any year between 959 and 969, it most likely was struck during her regency (March–August 963). They note that the globus with trefoil ornament that Theophano holds is to be seen on a seal that they publish of the joint reign of Constantine VII and Romanos II (945–59). See Zacos–Veglery, no. 71. In addition, on bronze coins of Nikephoros II, the emperor is shown holding a globus surmounted by a trefoil ornament (DOC 3.2:7.1–7.16).

It is interesting to note that on this seal the Mother of God’s depiction is unaccompanied by the sigla MP-ΘV. Grierson (DOC 3.2: p. 579) asserts that a (lost) follis struck in the sole name of Theophano is a forgery. The specimen is decorated on the obverse with a bust of the Mother of God orans, and on the reverse the bust of Theophano, who holds a scepter. She is accompanied by an inscription reading ΘEOFA-NOUAUΓ: Θeofanou auγ(ousta). In Grierson’s opinion “it would be contrary to precedent for an empress to strike coins in her own name alone, without reference to her colleagues.” There is not any doubt, despite this argument, that the present seal is genuine.


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