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Anonymous (mid-eleventh century)

 
 

Obverse

Bust of the Virgin holding a medallion of Christ before her. Sigla: ̅Θ̅. : Μή(τη)ρ Θ(εο)[ῦ]. Border of dots.

Reverse

St Akindynos holding a small martyr’s cross in his right hand; his left hand is not depicted. Inscription in two columns: |.|Κ̣|ΙΝ.|Υ|ΝΟ|Σ : ὁ ἅ(γιος) [Ἀ]κίν[δ]υνος. Border of dots.

 

Obverse

Bust of the Virgin holding a medallion of Christ before her. Sigla: ̅Θ̅. : Μή(τη)ρ Θ(εο)[ῦ]. Border of dots.

Reverse

St Akindynos holding a small martyr’s cross in his right hand; his left hand is not depicted. Inscription in two columns: |.|Κ̣|ΙΝ.|Υ|ΝΟ|Σ : ὁ ἅ(γιος) [Ἀ]κίν[δ]υνος. Border of dots.

 

Accession number BZS.1951.31.5.3614
Diameter 22.0 mm; field: 18.0 mm
Previous Editions

DO Seals 7, no. 9.10

Credit Line Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Bequest of Thomas Whittemore.

Commentary

This image is a rare example of where the medallion is significantly larger than Christ, creating space between his nimbus, usually incorporated into the medallion, and the medallion frame. A few other examples are Zacos, BLS, 2, nos. 606 and 617; Wassiliou-Seibt, Bleisiegel, 2, no. 204; and DOSeals 3, no. 78.2.

Akindynos, a fourth-century martyr in Persia, is a rare figure for seals. There is just one published example: Cheynet-Vannier, Études prosopographiques, Dalassenos no. 4, issued by Theophylaktos Dalassenos, also from the first half of the eleventh century, but depicted in military costume. The portrait on our seal follows the usual type for the saint: a head of thick curly hair, a long, full beard, holding a martyr’s cross and dressed in civil costume. He is represented in a similar manner in the Menologion of Basil II for his feast-day of 2 November, in eleventh-century illustrated Metaphrastian menologia (see Ševčenko, Metaphrastian Menologion, 64 and 170) and in the late eleventh-century mosaic in the church of Daphne.