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Maria tourmarchissa (eleventh century)

Accession number BZS.1955.1.4539
Diameter 24 mm


Bust of the Virgin holding medallion of Christ before her. Sigla: ΘΥ̅ : [Μ(ήτη)ρ] Θ(εο)ῦ. Traces of a circular inscription within a border of dots.


[Θ(εοτό)κε βοήθει] τῷ σ[ῷ] δ(ούλῳ)


Inscription in five lines. Border of dots.


Θ(εοτό)κε [β]οίθ[ει] Μαρίᾳ τρομαρχ[ί]σᾳ


Θεοτόκε βοήθει τῷ σῷ δούλῳ. Θεοτόκε βοίθει Μαρίᾳ τρομαρχίσᾳ.

Theotokos, help your servant. Theotokos, help the tourmarchissa Maria.


The obverse of this seal presents an interesting problem: the invocation in the circular inscription is redundant with the invocation in the reverse inscription, and even more importantly, it is an invocation for a masculine seal owner, when this is the seal of a female tourmarchissa. This seal likely shows how seals like this were put together in the eleventh century; the obverse containing Virgin with an invocation on the circumference was done in a standard manner, ignoring the obverse inscription with the expectation of a dative masculine name and titles/offices on the reverse.