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Constantine IV (681–85)

Accession number BZS.1958.106.483 (formerly DO 58.106.483)
Diameter 33 mm
Condition Corroded.
Previous Editions

DO Seals 6, no. 24.1.


The Mother of God standing, wearing a chiton and maphorion, and holding Christ on her left arm. A cross at left and right. Wreath border.


Bust of the emperor Constantine IV wearing a helmet and body armor. A cross potent at right. Wreath border.


This heavily corroded specimen presents a couple of problems as to design and dating. First, the regalia on the reverse are obscured, and present two possibilities. On a similar seal, though of much higher quality, preserved in the Vatican Collection, and published by Laurent (Vatican, no. 7 and pl. XLIV), the emperor holds a spear in his right hand, and a shield with a horseman device rests on his left shoulder. In contrast, Zacos and Veglery suggest that the emperor holds a globus cruciger, thus accounting for the cross in the field above Constantine's right hand. A faint outline of a cross to the emperor's left, however, suggests that the cross is one of a pair of flanking devices, and is not in fact a globus cruciger.

As for the question of dating, Laurent postulated that the seal appeared early in Constantine’s reign, because the Vatican specimen portrays a beardless Constantine. This entry, however, follows Zacos and Veglery in assigning the seal to the late years of his reign, Their no. 25 depicts the Mother of God holding Christ in her left arm on the obverse, and on the reverse the bust of an emperor who may be reasonably identified as Justinian II. Justinian, they suggest, wished to use a seal design that recalled the seal of his predecessor and, if so, then he would more likely have adopted a decorative motif that was employed late in Constantine’s reign.

Still, because details of regalia and secondary decoration are uncertain, it would be unwise to insist on the attribution of this seal to the reign of Constantine IV. Seibt, Bleisiegel, p. 77, is inclined to believe that this type begins with the reign of Emperor Leontios (695–98).