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Priests and ekklesiekdikoi (of Saint Sophia) (twelfth century)

Accession number BZS.1951.31.5.2933
Diameter 70 mm
Field diameter 54 mm
Condition Holed at top.
Previous Editions

DO Seals 5 no. 42.13; Zacos, Seals II, no. 68. Illustrated by Laurent, Corpus 5.1: no. 113.


The Mother of God (left) and Justinian (right), holding between them a model of the church of Saint Sophia, which offers a view within of a cross set on an altar. Inscription above and in center: ΗΑ|ΓΙΑ Σ|Ο|Φ|Ι|Α : Ἡ Ἁγία Σοφία. Two columnar inscriptions: at left, an invocation: ΘΚ̅Ε̅|Ο|Η|Θ|Ε|Ι : and at right: Ι|Ι|ΝΙΑ|ΝΟΝ|ΔΕΣ|ΠΟ|Τ : Ἰουστινιανὸν δεσπότην. Border of dots.

Θ(εοτό)κε βοήθει


Inscription of six lines followed by decoration. Border of dots.


τοῖς θεοσεβεστάτοις πρεσβυτέροις καὶ ἐκκλησ[ε]κδίκο(ις)


Θεοτόκε βοήθει τοῖς θεοσεβεστάτοις πρεσβυτέροις καὶ ἐκκλησεκδίκοις.

Mother of God, help the most reverent priests and judges of Hagia Sophia.


For a discussion of the ekklesiekdikoi, who formed a tribunal, operating out of Saint Sophia, and the iconography associated with their seals, see the brief introduction in DO Seals 5, pages 88–89, as well as J. Cotsonis, "The Virgin and Justinian on Seals of the Ekklesiekdikoi of Hagia Sophia."

The syntactical relationship between the phrases on the obverse and reverse is difficult to see. We assume that Θ(εοτό)κε βοήθει is completed by τοῖς θεοσεβεστάτοις πρεσβυτέροις καὶ ἐκκλησ[ε]κδίκο(ις), leaving us with the problem of how to understand Ἰουστινιανὸν δεστότην. In our opinion the latter serves as an identifying label, even though rendered in the accusative case.