Antiquities > Seals and Tesserae

Byzantine lead seal - what is the name?


The name on this seal should be easy to read, but it's not... The obverse has an invocative monogram and the phrase 'TW CW DOVLW' (aid your servant). Reverse has IL-HA / AM-HN. The word 'amen' is self-explanatory, but Ilea is a strange sounding name that I cannot find anywhere. There's a hint of a vertical bar, making the lambda an N, but INHA seems not to make any sense either.
I have entertained the thought that maybe it is just a misspelling of the common name Ellias - HLIA is in the correct case (masculine dative). I am curious if somebody has any view on this.

The full inscription on both sides reads as:
 :Greek_Theta_2: :Greek_epsilon: :Greek_Omicron: :Greek_Tau: :Greek_Omicron: :Greek_Kappa: :Greek_epsilon:
 :Greek_Beta: :Greek_Omicron: :Greek_Eta: :Greek_Theta_2: :Greek_epsilon: :Greek_Iota:
 :Greek_Tau: :Greek_Omega:
C :Greek_Omega:
 :Greek_Delta: :Greek_Omicron: :Greek_Upsilon: :Greek_Lambda: :Greek_Omega:
 :Greek_Eta: :Greek_Lambda: :Greek_Eta: :Greek_Alpha: (correct type would be   :Greek_Eta: :Greek_Lambda: :Greek_Iota: :Greek_Alpha:)
 :Greek_Alpha: :Greek_Mu: :Greek_Eta: :Greek_Nu:

Mother of God help your servant Helias, amen


Hi TK,
Thank you very much for your suggestion that it might not be an engraving error but rather a variant spelling of the name Elias. Examining the seal once again, there does seem te be another vertical bar at the left, making H a possibility, although a letter pi is also possible, but would not make any sense. I think the seal can indeed be safely attributed to an individual named Elias.
Your reading of HLHA as the name reminded me of another seal I had a while ago that had St. Nicholas' name spelled NHKWLAOS, with eta and omega - instead of NIKOLAOS, with iota and omicron - (I have attached the photo, his name is in the fields, the 'theta' is actually a tiny A in a letter O, which stand for 'O Hagios')
I would be curious to hear of the backgrounds for this phenomenom, but maybe I should post that question not here, but on a linguistics board...


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