Antiquities > Seals and Tesserae

Lead Seals

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Obryzum:
Last month I won an auction lot that included 67 Byzantine coins and 2 lead seals.  I have never purchased any lead seals before, and I do not have any references.  Does anyone have any idea what these are??? 

Gert:
Hi,
The first piece is indeed a Byzantine seal of the 6th-7th century showing a facing bust of the Virgin holding Christ. The reverse has a monogram of, normally, the owner's name. I think you maybe have to turn it 90 degrees, so you have Theta in the middle, E at the left and K at the right extremity.  These monograms as a rule have all the letters of the owner's name in its genitive form, so attribution depends on what you can read at the other extremeties. Names with these letters include Theoktistos and Theophylaktos, but of course there are more possibilities.
The other piece is not a seal but a pendant/amulet showing the god Abraxas. The other side shows his name as IAW. There are numerous lead amulets and engraved gems showing this iconography.
Regards
Gert

Obryzum:
Thank you for the information.  Can you recommend any good references?

Gert:
The main reference for this period of seals is the 4 volume corpus by Zacos/Veglery 'Byzantine Lead Seals'. You might want to check some libraries, as this work is quite impossible to buy. Then there's Cheynet and Morrison 'Sceaux Byzantins de la collection Henri Seyrig', which is easier to purchase, and Laurent's 'La Collection C. Orghidan', which is also heavy on monograms. Zacos II, like vol. I also beautifully published, is currently available through M&M in Germany is the main reference for the later centuries.
Of course the DO books are also readily available for purchase, but they are useless for these monogrammatic seals as these books only list seals bearing place names (except Vol VI with imperial and patriarchal seals), not just individuals. Next to these there are a couple of minor references.

But finding a reference for a non-imperial seal is relatively hard - there thousands of them that basically are all very rare... many are still unpublished.
Regards
Gert

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