Basil II (976–1025)

Accession Number:
BZS.1977.34.94 (formerly DO 77.34.94)

Previous Editions

DO Seals 6 no. 68.5.

Details

Diameter:
35 mm
Weight:
17.91 g
Condition:
One-third missing.

Obverse

Basil II (976–1025)

Half-length representation of Christ Emmanuel, bearded, wearing a tunic and himation, and raising his right hand in blessing. He has a simple nimbus. At left and right, sigla IC-XC: Ἰ(ησοῦ)ς Χ(ριστό)ς. Remains of a circular inscription. Border of dots.

Basil II (976–1025)

[Ἐμμανου]ήλ.

Reverse

Basil II (976–1025)

Half-length representation of Basil II, wearing a loros and holding in his right hand a globus surmounted by a patriarchal cross. Remains of a circular inscription at left and right. Border of dots.

Basil II (976–1025)

. . . tokrat(or)

Translation

Basilios autokrator.

Basilios, autokrator.

Audio

Commentary

Basil II reigned from 976 to 1025. His colleague, Constantine VIII, is regularly portrayed with him on gold coins. This series of seals (published as DO Seals 6 no. 68.1-10), however, is fairly rare in not following the coinage, as it differs in both design, the portrayal of Basil II alone, without his brother, and inscription, identifying the emperor as "autokrator" instead of "basileus."

It is not obvious why Constantine’s portrait is absent from this group of imperial seals. Possibly, in the years after 989, when Bardas Phokas had died and Basil II assumed control of the empire’s affairs, he elected to show through his seals that his brother had been shunted aside and that he was in effect sole ruler. Seibt (Bleisiegel, 87) has postulated that the seal type depicting Basil alone appeared in the 990s, but may have remained in use throughout the reign of Basil and Constantine.

In some cases Basil’s globus cruciger is surmounted by a patriarchal cross and in others by a simple cross. Another difference arises with regard to the decoration of the arms of Christ’s cross nimbus. Sometimes it consists of a row of two dots and in other instances it is more elaborate.

Finally, one should note that six seals of Basil II have been found during excavations in Preslav. See Jordanov, Preslav, nos. 2–7, a testament to his activities in the the Balkans during the second half of his reign.

 

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