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John I (969–76)

Accession number BZS.1958.106.642 (formerly DO 58.106.642)
Diameter 22 mm
Field diameter 20 mm
Condition No channel for suspension
Previous Editions

DO Seals 6, no. 66.2; Zacos–Veglery, no. 74b.


Half-length representation of Christ, wearing a tunic and himation. He raises his right hand in blessing and holds a book in his left. Circular inscription. Border of dots.


Iηs(us) Xr(istu)s rex regnanti<u>m.


Two half-length figures: at left, John I, bearded, wearing a cross-topped crown and a loros; at right, the Mother of God raising her right arm and blessing the emperor by setting her hand on his crown. Circular inscription. Border of dots.


[Θ]εοτοc(e) [bοήθ(ει) Ἰ]ω(άννῃ) desp(oti).


Iηsus Xristus rex regnantium.
Θεοτοce bοήθει Ἰωάννῃ despoti.

Jesus Christ, King of Kings.
Mother of God, help John, despotes.


John I Tzimiskes reigned from 969–76. After his assassination of Nikephoros II, he sent Theophano into exile and married Theodora, a daughter of Constantine VII. His gold coin, the design of which this seal follows closely, features a half-length representation of Christ on the obverse and on the reverse half-length representations of the emperor and the Mother of God. She touches the emperor’s crown with her right hand. Above the emperor’s head appears the manus Dei (DOC 3.2:3.7 [pl. 42]; BNC 2:40/Cp/AV/05 [pl. 80, AV/05]).

This specimen, along with BZS.1958.106.643, may be a tessera.

Whether the manus Dei appears on the reverse of this seal is uncertain.