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Panaretos kensor and judge of the Armenian themes (eleventh century)

Accession number BZS.1958.106.5582
Diameter 28 mm
Condition Appears to be overstruck, with traces of the previous strike evident along the border of the reverse.
Previous Editions

DO Seals 4, no. 56.9. See also W. Seibt, "Ἀρμενικὰ θέματα", 136, no. 15; and Wassiliou-Seibt, Siegel mit metrischen Legenden II, no. 2491.


In the center St. Eustratios standing, surrounded by four medallions, two on each side, containing inscribed busts of saints. Inscription on the sides of the central figure: |ευ|στ|ρ|α-τ|ι|ο|σ : Ὁ ἅ(γιος) Εὐστράτιος. In the medallions: upper left, |α|υ-.|τ; lower left, –α|ρ; upper right, |ε|υ-γ|ε; lower right, |ο-ρε : Ὁ ἅ(γιος) Αὐ[ξέν]τ(ιος), [Ὁ ἅγιος Μαδρ]άρ(ιος), Ὁ ἅ(γιος) Εὐγέ(νιος), Ὁ ἅ(γιος) Ὀρέ(στης). Border of dots.


Inscription. Border of dots.


Σφραγ(ὶς) κένσωρος (καὶ) δικαστοῦ θεμάτω(ν) τῶν Ἀρ{ρ}μενικῶν ἥδε τοῦ Παναρέτου.


Σφραγὶς κένσωρος καὶ δικαστοῦ θεμάτων τῶν Ἀρμενικῶν ἥδε τοῦ Παναρέτου.

Seal of Panaretos, censor and judge of the Armenian themes.


The inscription consists of two twelve-syllable verses.

First attested in the middle of the tenth century, the “Armenian themes” drew their name from the Armenian immigrants settled along the eastern frontier of the empire. They covered small territories, made up essentially of one fortress and its region, each supplying infantry soldiers for campaigns, and had a distinct administrative structure characterized by the large number of officers (the Charpezikion had 22 major toumarchai and 47 lesser ones). The Armenian themes (tentative list in Kühn, Armee, 61-64) thus differed from the larger, traditional “Roman themes” lying to the interior. See Oikonomides, Listes, 345-46, and “Organisation"; and W. Seibt, “Ἀρμενικὰ θέματα als terminus technicus der byzantinischen Verwaltungsgeschichte des 11. Jahrhunderts,” ByzSl 54 (1993) 134-41. Each Armenian theme had its own (low-grade) strategos (called zirwar by the Arabs, zoravar by the Armenians); in the eleventh century we find a strategos of the Armenian themes in general (Zacos, Seals II, no. 844), indicating an effort to centralize the command of these scattered units. The many seals of the financial officials in our collection reflect the economic importance of the Armenian themes while those of the judicial officials show the effort necessary to maintain law and order in these frontier zones, especially in an Armenian population notorious for its lack of discipline (E. McGeer, The Land Legislation of the Macedonian Emperors [Toronto, 2000] 86-89).