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George (arch?)bishop of Bizye (seventh/eighth century)

Accession number BZS.1958.106.5644
Diameter 28 mm
Field diameter 20 mm
Previous Editions

DO Seals 1, no. 74.2.
Laurent, Corpus V/3, no. 1806 (seventh century); Zacos-Veglery, no. 1332a (eighth/ninth century).


The Virgin standing frontally, holding Christ. Cruciform monogram composed of Θ, E; Κ below, and Τ and Ο in ligature at top. Cruciform monogram at right consisting of Θ at left, Η at right, Β below and Ο on top. Wreath border.

Θεοτόκε βοήθει


In center, large cruciform monogram consisting of Ο in center, Ε at left, Π and Σ in ligature at right,  below, and Γ and Ρ in ligature at top. In the quarters ΒΙΖΥ|ΗΣ.

Γεωργίῳ ἐπισκόπῳ Βιζύης


Θεοτόκε βοήθει Γεωργίῳ ἐπισκόπῳ Βιζύης.

Theotokos, help George bishop of Bizye.


The name could also be read as Σεργίῳ. Laurent assigned this specimen to the seventh century and Zacos-Veglery to the eighth/ninth. As the epigraphy is relatively archaic, while the general type of the seal is usually associated with the period of the iconoclastic reaction (787-815), we cannot date this specimen with any certainty. In proposing the tentative seventh/eighth century, we are influenced by the fact that an archbishop of Bizye named George attended the sixth ecumenical council of 680/1 and, still in office, was present at the Council of Trullo in 691/2 (Asdracha, Thrace orientale, 278; Laurent, Corpus V/3, no. 1806). But we still note that the owner of this seal claims to be a bishop, not an archbishop, and that his name could as well be Sergios. Consequently several problems remain open.

Bizye (modern Vize in Turkish Thrace) is northeast of Arkadioupolis. The city, a fortress [φρούριον] as described in Skylitzes, 39, line 37, has a long and distinguished history. In the ninth-tenth centuries, Bizye was the residence of a tourmarches, as attested by seals (DO Seals 1, no. 74.1 and Sig., 159 = Konstantopoulos, no. 31) and by the Life of St. Maria the Younger (d. 902): Zakythinos, Mélétai 22 (1952) 169-70. From the ecclesiastical point of view, Bizye was first a suffragan bishopric of Herakleia (5th century) and later, in the seventh century, an autocephalous archbishopric until it was elevated to a metropolis in the fourteenth century. The city, and its see, probably took on increased importance in 679/80, after the loss of Tomis and Odessa and the foundation of the Bulgarian state. See Laurent, Corpus V/1, 635 and Asdracha, Thrace orientale, 230-31, 277-79.