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Eirenaios deacon, archon tou blattiou and kommerkiarios of Abydos (eighth century)

Accession Number:

Previous Editions

DO Seals 3, no. 40.14a.

Zacos-Veglery, no. 1862. Similar seal published by Laurent, Orghidan, no. 254.


36 mm
25 mm
Understruck partly visible (see commentary).


Eirenaios deacon, archon tou blattiou and kommerkiarios of Abydos (eighth century)

Cruciform invocative monogram (type V). In the quarters: ει-ρη|νε-. Wreath border.

Θεοτόκε βοήθει Εἰρηνέῳ


Eirenaios deacon, archon tou blattiou and kommerkiarios of Abydos (eighth century)

Inscription of five lines, a cross below. Wreath border.


διακόνῳ ἄρχον(τι) τοῦ βλατίου (καὶ) κομ(μερκιαρίῳ) [Ἀ]βύδου


Θεοτόκε βοήθει Εἰρηνέῳ διακόνῳ ἄρχοντι τοῦ βλατίου καὶ κομμερκιαρίῳ Ἀβύδου.

Mother of God, help Eirenaios, deacon, archon tou blattiou and kommerkiarios of Abydos.



This seal and BZS.1958.106.398 come from the same boulloterion.

Some letters from the understrike are legible; on the obverse, at 4 o'clock, remains of an η (the right end of the cruciform monogram) and, at a lower level, an Ω; on the reverse one can read along the left side the letters: ο.|ο.|τι|αβυ|+, suggesting that the blank underwent a tentative first strike with the same boulloterion.

Eirenaios is not the first deacon to be encountered among seals holding the position of archon of the blattion. We also know of a deacon Peter who shared the post of supervisor of the imperial silk-dyeing factory in the period 711-714 (Zacos-Veglery, nos. 207 [=Laurent, Corpus II, no. 645], 214).

From the formation of the titles of the present seal (no mention of an apotheke), one is tempted to think that Eirenaios' duties in Abydos were limited to the taxation of merchandise in transit. A kommerkiarios of the seventh century with an apotheke appears on BZS.1947.2.413.

The city of Abydos, at the entrance of the Hellespont, has always had great importance as a point of control of the straits. From the fifth to the eighth centuries the main official mentioned there is the komes, who received his salary from the state, taxed the bypassing ships (texts put together by Zacos-Veglery, p. 1637), and sometimes accumulated the command of the Hieron, at the exit from the Bosporus to the Black Sea. The komes disappears with the eighth century, and a military governor of the fortress, the paraphylax, makes his appearance and is attested by many seals in the ninth century; sometimes he cumulates the office of kommerkiarios (cf. Listes, 343). The controls made in Abydos gave their name to a special institution, the abydos, which appears in other parts of the empire, most of all in Thessalonica and which gave its name to the title of abydikos (cf. Oikonomides, AbydosDO Seals 1.18).

The earliest known kommerkiarios [of the apotheke] of Abydos is attested in the mid-seventh century; other kommerkiarioi are attested in the eighth century, and more appear in the ninth, when they are obviously related to the collection of a duty from passing ships (this is clearly attested in 992: Zepos, Jus I, 260-261), no doubt the kommerkion, which appears around the year 800. Maybe they were also called phorologoi.

An archon of Abydos is also attested by a seal and a text around the year 800. It is not impossible that this title existed only for a limited time and, for this reason, is mentioned in few sources only at a period of transition.

Together with the rest of the littoral of the Opsikion, Abydos belonged also to the naval theme of Aigaion Pelagos, was normally visited by the strategos (Arhweiler, Mer, 78), and seemed to have been the seat of a tourmarches. We shall ignore here a ninth-century seal (Zacos-Veglery, no. 3088) that probably belonged to a strategos of the Kibyrraiotai (and not of Abydos as initially published; cf. the remark of W. Seibt, in ByzSl 36 [1975] 212). A strategos is said to be sent to Abydos in 963 (Leo the Deacon, Bonn, 44), but he could well be a strategos of the Aigaion. The first secure mention of a strategos of Abydos is of the year 1004, and again in 1025 and 1033, often with maritime duties (Skylitzes, 346, 368, 388). In the eleventh century he exercised authority to the northern shore of the Dardanelles as well as on the islands (at Madytos: Sathas, MB V, 423, 487), a detail that shows he was in fact a naval commander, such as the strategos of the Aigaion. A katepano of Abydos appears in 1086 (Lavra I, no. 48, line 3). The city's fortifications were repaired by Manuel I Komnenos (Theodori Prodromi, De Manganis, ed. S. Bernardinello [Padua, 1972], 79, 80).

In this context, one can understand the existence of typically naval thematic officials at Abydos, such as the kentarchos. On the contrary, the existence of a seventh/eighth-century chartoularios of Abydos (Zacos-Veglery, no. 867A) should be related to the early theme of the Opsikion rather than to the Karabisianoi, who seem not have had any thematic structure.

From the earliest period, Abydos was a suffragan bishopric of Kyzikos (DHGE 1, cols. 209-10). It became a metropolis at the beginning of the reign of Alexios I Komnenos (1084?) and retained this rank until the Turkish conquest in the fourteenth century (cf. Laurent, Corpus V/1, 622). To the seals of bishops and metropolitans mentioned by Laurent, one can now add those of Basil (bishop?) and Michael and Demetrios metropolitans (Zacos, Seals II, nos. 374, 587; Lihaçev, Molivdovuly, 130-31, pl. LXVI, no. 2).

See Bibicou, Recherches, 179-81; H. Arhweiler, "Fonctionnaires et bureaux maritimes à Byzance," REB 19 (1961) 239-52; Arhweiler, Mer, passim; Oikonomides, Abydos; ODB 1, 8-9.


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