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The Laura of Athanasios (eleventh century, second half)

Accession number BZS.1955.1.5003
Diameter 16 mm
Previous Editions

DO Seals 1, no. 28.5. Laurent, Corpus V/3, no. 1900. Cf. Wassiliiou-Seibt, Siegel mit metrischen Legenden II, no. 2152.


Bust of the Virgin orans. To her right: : Μήτηρ Θεοῦ. Linear border.


Inscription of five lines. Linear border.


Σκέποις, Πάναγνε, Λαύραν Ἀθανασίου


Σκέποις, Πάναγνε, Λαύραν Ἀθανασίου.

All-holy One, may you protect the Laura of Athanasios.


The reverse inscription is a correct twelve-syllable verse. Note the central dot in the middle of Λαύραν.

Laurent would attribute this seal to an otherwise unknown Constantinopolitan institution rather than to the Lavra of Mount Athos because it does not style Athanasios as "saint" or "hosios." However, this argument is by no means convincing, since there are mentions of the Lavra tou kyr Athanasiou well into the eleventh century (Lavra I, 147 note 176; Iviron I, no. 27, line 3, of 1042). Moreover, the formulation of this legend was also influenced by the metrics.

The peninsula of Mount Athos was a territory reserved for monks from the ninth century on. The origins and early history of the monastic community, which from the beginning was dedicated to the Virgin, are discussed by Denise Papachryssanthou in Prôtaton. The central administration, located in the town of Karyes, was supervised by an elected protos, who together with his council, also administrated communal properties, while the monasteries maintained their independence.