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Arsavir patrikios and strategos of the Thrakesianoi (eighth century)

 
 

Obverse

Inscription of four lines preceded and followed by decoration. Wreath border.

+
αγιατριασ
οθ̅σημων
βοηθιτω
ουλωσ
+

Ἁγία Τριάς, ὁ Θ(εὸ)ς ἡμῶν, βοήθι τῷ δούλῳ σου.

Reverse

Inscription of four lines preceded and followed by decoration.

..
αρσ..ηρ
πατρικ/Sσ
τρατητων
τρακια.

+

Ἀρσ[αβ]ὴρ πατρικ(ίῳ) (καὶ) στρατη(γῷ) τῶν Θρᾳκ(η)σιά[ν(ων)].

Obverse

Inscription of four lines preceded and followed by decoration. Wreath border.

+
αγιατριασ
οθ̅σημων
βοηθιτω
ουλωσ
+

Ἁγία Τριάς, ὁ Θ(εὸ)ς ἡμῶν, βοήθι τῷ δούλῳ σου.

Reverse

Inscription of four lines preceded and followed by decoration.

..
αρσ..ηρ
πατρικ/Sσ
τρατητων
τρακια.

+

Ἀρσ[αβ]ὴρ πατρικ(ίῳ) (καὶ) στρατη(γῷ) τῶν Θρᾳκ(η)σιά[ν(ων)].

Accession number BZS.1955.1.1937
Diameter 32.0 mm
Previous Editions

DO Seals 3, no. 1.2.

Zacos-Veglery, no. 753. A second specimen in the Hermitage (M-1751).

Translation

Ἁγία Τριάς, ὁ Θεὸς ἡμῶν, βοήθι τῷ δούλῳ σου Ἀρσαβὴρ πατρικίῳ καὶ στρατηγῷ τῶν Θρᾳκησιάνων.

Holy Trinity, our God, help your servant Arsavir, patrikios and strategos of the Thrakesianoi.

Commentary

Zacos-Veglery, confused by the unusual ending, read the third line as ΣΤΡΑΤΗΓ ..|ΘΡΑ.., but a second, better preserved specimen of the Hermitage (M-1751) provides the correct reading (Winkelmann, Ämsterstruktur, 82).

The term Thrakesianoi has long been understood in scholarly literature as a different name for Thrakesioi (e.g., Zacos-Veglery, no. 2623; W. Seibt in Litterae Numismaticae Vindobonenses R. Goebl dedicatae [Vienna, 1979] 149; Haldon, Seventh Century220). The term also appears on other seals from the eighth to the tenth centuries: Konstantopoulos, no. 128a; Zacos, Seals II, no. 1089; Zacos-Veglery, 2615A, 2623. But the meaning of the word has been misunderstood: it refers to the soldiers from Thrace, not of the Thrakesion. Theophanes 447,20 describes how Emperor Constantine V prepared a surprise campaign against the Bulgars by adding the Thrakesianoi to the themes of Asia Minor, obviously the soldiers of Thrace. Better yet, in the description of the campaign against Crete in 911, there is a clear distinction between the scholarioi of Thrace (Thrakesianoi) and Macedonia on one hand, and the soldiers of the Thrakesion on the other (Cer., 652, 655, 660). No matter the basis of the name, the Thrakesianoi mentioned here were most probably officials operating in Thrace and not in Asia Minor.

Bibliography

  • Catalogue of Byzantine Seals at Dumbarton Oaks and at the Fogg Museum of Art, Vol. 3: West, Northwest, and Central Asia Minor and the Orient (Open in Zotero)
  • Byzantine Lead Seals, Vol. 2 (Open in Zotero)
  • Byzantine Lead Seals, Vol. 1 (Open in Zotero)
  • Byzantium in the Seventh Century: The Transformation of a Culture (Open in Zotero)
  • Βυζαντιακὰ μολυβδόβουλλα. Ἡ συλλογὴ Ἀναστασίου Κ. Π. Σταμούλη (Open in Zotero)
  • Theophanis Chronographia (Open in Zotero)
  • Constantini Porphyrogeniti De cerimoniis aulae byzantinae (Open in Zotero)
  • Byzantinische Rang- und Ämterstruktur im 8. und 9. Jahrhundert: Faktoren und Tendenzen ihrer Entwicklung (Open in Zotero)