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John I (969–76)

Accession number BZS.1958.106.643 (formerly DO 58.106.643)
Diameter 24 mm
Field diameter 20 mm
Condition Encrusted. No channel for suspension
Previous Editions

DO Seals 6, no. 66.1; Zacos–Veglery, no. 74a.


Half-length representation of Christ, wearing a tunic and himation. He raises his right hand in blessing and holds a book in his left hand. He has a nimbus, perhaps a nimbus cruciger. Circular inscription. Border of dots.


Iη(su)s Χr(istu)s rex regnanti<u>m.


Two half-length figures. At left, John I, bearded, wearing a cross-topped crown and a loros, and holding a long patriarchal cross in his left hand. At right, the Mother of God, raising her right arm and blessing the emperor by setting her hand on his crown. Above the head of the emperor is the manus Dei, and above the Mother of God appears the siglum MΘ: Μ(ήτηρ) Θ(εοῦ). Circular inscription. Border of dots.


[Θ]εοτοc(e) bοήθ(ει) Ἰω(άννῃ) des(poti).


Iηsus Χristus rex regnantium.
Θεοτοce bοήθει Ἰωάννῃ despoti.

Jesus Christ, King of Kings.
Mother of God, help John, despotes.


John I Tzimiskes reigned from 969–76. After his assassination of Nikephoros II, he sent Theophano into exile and married Theodora, a daughter of Constantine VII. His gold coin, the design of which this seal follows closely, features a half-length representation of Christ on the obverse and on the reverse half-length representations of the emperor and the Mother of God. She touches the emperor’s crown with her right hand. Above the emperor’s head appears the manus Dei (DOC 3.2:3.7 [pl. 42]; BNC 2:40/Cp/AV/05 [pl. 80, AV/05]).

This specimen, along with BZS.1958.106.642, may be a tessera.