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Constantine IV (681–85)

Accession number BZS.1958.106.538 (formerly DO 58.106.538)
Diameter 29 mm
Previous Editions

DO Seals 6, no. 23.3.


Half-length representation of Constantine IV, bearded, head turned slightly to the right. He wears a crown with a plume, a cuirass, and a chlamys. He wears his hair long at the sides and curled. He holds in his right hand a spear behind his head, and a shield decorated with a horseman device rests on his left shoulder. No epigraphy. Wreath border.


Large cross potent. No epigraphy. Indeterminate border.


Grierson has argued that Constantine deposed his brothers Herakleios and Tiberios, at least for the final time, in 681. Prior to that date he issued gold coins decorated on the obverse with a bearded bust of Constantine and on the obverse with a cross-on-steps flanked by Herakleios at left and Tiberios at right.  Subsequently, the reverse depicted on the cross-on-steps. Since no corulers appear, this entry follows Zacos and Veglery in assigned this seal to the period of 681–85 (DOC 2.2:15d [class 4]; MIB 3: Prägetabelle 8, no. 10).

Both Constantine’s coins and seals set aside an austere depiction in favor of a heroic type, one that has its roots in imperial depictions of the fifth and sixth centuries. Its last appearance was during the early years of the reign of Justinian I. Morrisson has suggested that the type may have been revived due to ideological reasons that influenced Constantine’s decision to bestow on a son born in 669 the name Justinian (BNC 1: p. 374).

Constantine’s seals are remarkable for the replacement of the Virgin with a cross potent. As Seibt observes, the cross, which symbolizes Christ’s triumph over death, may serve as a victory motif (Seibt–Zarnitz, 32, and Koltsida-Makri, “Representation of the Cross,” 45–46).