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Bardas Parsakoutenos, magistros and doux of Anatolikon. Lead seal c. AD 970-990
10291|Bardas Parsakoutenos, magistros and doux of Anatolikon. Lead seal c. AD 970-990
Star with six rays ending in something resembling arrows; circular invocational legend + KE ROHΘEI TW CW ΔUΛW
30mm; 16.24gram.

Before turning to the identification of the seals owner, there are a number of issues to be addressed about the reverse legend. Up to the fourth line, all is clear. A nominative legend listing Bardas dignity of magistros and his office of doux ton Anatolikon. The last line has his family name Pars(a)k(outenos). The fifth line, however, does not make sense. It might be an engravers error, repeating TWN of the third line and O ΠAP of the last line. This explanation, even though unelegant, has to do for now, unless an otherwise unknown office or command is meant.
The seals owner is probably the person named in Leon Diakonos (VII.1) as one of three brothers Parsakoutenos, who backed Bardas Phokas the younger during his rebellion of AD 970 against John I Tzimiskes. These brothers, Theodore, Bardas and Nikephoros took their name, according to Leon, after the city of their birth, Parsakouta, which is a village on the road between Nymphaion and Sardis in the Thrakesian theme (p. 162, n.4 of the English edition). Leon adds that the Parsakoutenoi were cousins of Bardas Phokas and that they held the rank of patrikios and adds that they mustered troops with great zeal. Skylitzes (291.13-14) adds that Theodore and Nikephoros were the sons of the patrikios Theodoulos Parsakoutenos, and were exarchs in Cappadocia (p. 162, n.3). The rebellion, however, was extinguished by the skilled general Bardas Skleros, and Bardas Phokas was temporarily imprisoned.
Leon Diakonos once again mentions Bardas Parsakoutenos in book X, chapter 7, during the revolt of Bardas Skleros. He is now called magistros, a higher rank than patrikios, which implies that his earlier allegience to a usurper had not frustrated his political career. In the late 970s, Skleros conquered large parts of Asia and was threatening to blockade the Dardanelles, hindering merchants and grain transports to the capital. In the end, he was defeated by Bardas Phokas on 24th of March 979 and fled to Muslim territory. But before his final defeat on the battleground, according to Leon Diakonos, his fortress at Abydos was seized, his army destroyed, and fire was set to his fleet of triremes by an imperial fleet of fireships dispatched from the capital under the command of Bardas Parsakoutenos. The seal, listing Bardas dignity as magistros, not patrikios as attested in AD 970, might well be from this period.
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Skyler  [Feb 05, 2016 at 03:52 AM]
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