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Michael bishop of Mytilene (eighth/ninth century)

Accession number BZS.1955.1.4659
Diameter 35 mm
Condition Broken off on lower l. quarter.
Previous Editions

DO Seals 2, no. 51.6.
Laurent, Corpus V/4, no. 1779.
Zacos-Veglery, no. 1341.


The Virgin standing, holding Christ. Traces of a cruciform monogram, with the following letters visible: Ο on top, Η at right, Β below, and Θ at left, for βοήθει. Border of dots.

Θεοτόκε βοήθει


Inscription of four lines, two pellets below. Border of dots.


Μιχαὴλ ἐπισκόπῳ Μιτυλίνης


Θεοτόκε βοήθει Μιχαὴλ ἐπισκόπῳ Μιτυλίνης.

Theotokos, help Michael bishop of Mytilene.


Laurent wrongly identified the figure on the obverse as St. Theodora, assigned the specimen to the middle of the 9th century, and proposed identifying the owner with a correspondent of Photios in the years 867-877; we follow the dating of Zacos-Veglery, supported by the type and epigraphy of the seal. This date is also supported by the title ἐπίσκοπος, commonly used by the archbishops until the late 8th century (e.g., at the Council of 787; and we believe, in Laurent, Corpus V/1, no. 751) before being replaced by the title μητροπολίτης after the elevation of Mytilene to the rank of metropolis in the second half of the 9th century.