You are here: Home / Publications & Online Resources / Byzantine Seals / Search the Catalogue / Thomas bishop (or episkeptites) of Kea (eleventh century)

Thomas bishop (or episkeptites) of Kea (eleventh century)

Accession Number:

Previous Editions

DO Seals 2, no. 16.1.
Laurent, Corpus V/2, no. 1595 (dated 11th/12th c.); the same seal is also published in Laurent, Corpus V/1, no. 684, with the placename mistakenly read as Bela (dated 11th c.).


22 mm
Faint imprint.


Thomas bishop (or episkeptites) of Kea (eleventh century)

Bust of the Virgin holding her hands open before her. On either side the sigla: ̅ΘΥ̅ : Μήτηρ Θεοῦ. Border of dots.


Thomas bishop (or episkeptites) of Kea (eleventh century)

Inscription of four lines. Border of dots.


Κύριε βοήτει Θωμ ἐπησκ..... Κέας


Κύριε βοήτει Θωμᾷ ἐπησκ(.....) Κέας.

Lord, help Thomas, bishop (episkopos) or episkeptites of Kea.



Line 3 of the reverse was taken to read ἐπισκόπῳ, but we must stress that another reading, ἐπησκεπτίτῃ, is equally possible. We have no other sources confirming the existence of an imperial domain (episkepsis) in Kea, but the paucity of the information about the island rules nothing out. On the other hand, what is known about the bishopric of Kea is also very limited and unreliable before the 13th century, in spite of the existence of many notitiae episcopatuum.

The engraving of our seal is shallow and of very poor quality, and the lettering is confusing. The image and the sigla of the obverse suggest a date no earlier than the 10th century, most probably 11th century. The letters of the reverse present characteristics of the 7th/8th century ( with long horizontal bar; shallow Ω; Α with the horizontal bar descending from left to right; Dated Seals, nos. 24, 5, 27, 30, 32); but the of line 1 seems to be the one used after the mid-9th century. One has the impression that the engraver, with little experience in die-cutting, used an old seal as his model. Also, he committed a curious mistake by engraving a Τ instead of Θ in βοήθει: one may wonder whether he was a native speaker of Greek or not.

We hesitate to press the hypotheses that this seal might generate, especially since the only notitia mentioning a bishop of Kea belongs to the 8th century. Because the seal that we have now cannot be earlier than the 10th century, we think that any hypothesis could only create confusion, the more so since the title of Thomas, episkopos or episkeptites, cannot be securely restored.


Document Actions