You are here:Home/Resources/ Byzantine Seals/ Search the Catalogue/ Anonymous (tenth/eleventh century)

Anonymous (tenth/eleventh century)

 
 

Obverse

Bust of St Nicholas, his right hand is not shown, his left hand holds a gospel book. Inscription in two columns (only right appears): Λ|Α|Ο|. : [ὁ ἅ(γιος) Νικό]λαο[ς]. Border of dots.

Reverse

An octagonal decorative motif with a sun-like emblem at the center; a pellet is placed between each extending branch. Border of dots.

Obverse

Bust of St Nicholas, his right hand is not shown, his left hand holds a gospel book. Inscription in two columns (only right appears): Λ|Α|Ο|. : [ὁ ἅ(γιος) Νικό]λαο[ς]. Border of dots.

Reverse

An octagonal decorative motif with a sun-like emblem at the center; a pellet is placed between each extending branch. Border of dots.

Accession number BZS.1947.2.1847
Diameter 26.0 mm
Previous Editions

DO Seals 7, 15.4

Commentary

When examining this piece, V. Laurent considered the motif to be an apotropaic device, likening it to the figure of the Medusa head or the figure of Hysteria found on several Byzantine amulets that he had previously published: “Amulettes byzantines,” 300-315, pls. 5 and 6. See also the two specimens discussed by Vikan, “Art, Medicine, and Magic,” 78, figs. 17 and 18. Two lead amulets, each with a Medusa-like head or Hysteria, appear in Laurent, Orghidan, nos. 688 and 689, assigned to the tenth-twelfth century, where the obverse of the latter bears the image of an uncertain saint. Several seals bearing similar rosette patterns are catalogued by Jordanov, Bulgaria 1, nos. 33.1a-d, assigned to the late tenth century, and in idem, Bulgaria 3, nos. 2077-2080, assigned to the second half of the eleventh century. A number of middle Byzantine amulets bearing an image of a saintly figure on one side and an apotropaic device on the other are known. For discussion of such pieces, see Grabar, “Amulettes byzanines,” 531-541, pls. 3-10; Spier, “Magical Amulets,” 25-62; and Walker, “Magic,” 209-234. These scholars have observed a tenth-century increase in the production of such objects and are considered to reflect the interests of an educated elite familiar with magical treatises and the arcane texts of the occult. See also Duffy, “Two Byzantine Intellectuals,” 83-98.