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Early Byzantine sigillographic evidence from western Anatolia: sixth- and seventh-century lead seals from Bergama (ancient Pergamon)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 February 2021

Ergün Laflı*
Dokuz Eylül University, Izmir
Werner Seibt*
Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Vienna
Doğukan Çağlayan*
The Metropolitan Municipality of Istanbul, Directorate of Cultural Heritage Projects


This article presents twelve lead seals from the Museum of Bergama (ancient Pergamon), dating from the late sixth to the early eighth century. We offer a descriptive catalogue of these early Byzantine seals preserved in a western Turkish museum. In the introduction, seals excavated in Pergamon as well as seals referring to Pergamon are briefly discussed. The owners of the twelve seals in the museum were primarily ecclesiastical or legal dignitaries who were probably active in Pergamon, in southwestern Mysia, in Aeolis or in Lydia.

Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies

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For the study of these objects at the Museum of Bergama an authorization has been issued to Doğukan Çağlayan by the directorate of the museum on June 27, 2019, enumerated as 75845132-154.01-E.529808. Documentation was done in August 2019 by D. Çağlayan. We would like to thank Nilgün Ustura, the director of the museum, and Yalçın Yılmazer, research assistant, for their help. Photos were taken by D. Çağlayan and the map was prepared by Sami Patacı (Ardahan). We are much indebted to Friedrich Hild (Vienna) and Maurizio Buora (Udine) for their assistance in various matters. Acknowledgments are also due to Denis Feissel (Paris) and Andreas Külzer (Vienna). Finally, we are grateful to the editors of BMGS, especially to Ingela Nilsson and John F. Haldon, for their patience and support.


1 The region of Pergamon is treated by Andreas Külzer in his forthcoming Westkleinasien (Lydia und Asia) in the series Tabula Imperii Byzantini, vol. 14. We would like to express our deepest appreciation to him for making available to us the lemma on Pergamon.

2 H. Voegtli, S. Bendall, L. Ilisch and C. Morrisson, ‘Byzantinische Münzen – Bleisiegel – Islamische Münzen’ in iidem (eds.), Die Fundmünzen aus der Stadtgrabung von Pergamon, Pergamenische Forschungen 8 (Berlin and New York 1993) 72, no. 1013 (without photo; dated to the end of the seventh–beginning of the eighth century) (hereafter Voegtli et al.).

3 Berlin acc. no. 462/1911 (the first); ed. K. Regling, ‘Byzantinische Bleisiegel’, in A. Conze et al., Altertümer von Pergamon, vol. I/2: Stadt und Landschaft (Berlin 1913) 333, no. 7–8; photos on suppl. 72, no. 7–8, dated to the end of the sixth–seventh century (hereafter Regling II).

4 Regling II, no. 9; photo 9.

5 Berlin acc. no. 460/1911; ed. Regling II, 333–4, no. 10; its photo on suppl. 72, no. 10. A parallel seal was published in G. Zacos and A. Veglery, Byzantine lead seals, vol. 1 (Basel 1972) 2764 (hereafter Zacos and Veglery). Recently a further parallel seal was offered in the Pecunem auction 27, 4.1.2015, no. 904. Andrapoda (similar to douloi) were people taken as captives in war, by raid or abduction and sold as slaves. There was a slave trade in the Byzantine Empire, not least from Caucasia and eastern Europe and normally not on a large scale. Only at the end of the seventh century, there was a giant slave market organized by kommerkiarioi. In the modern literature the Slavic element in this group came to be exaggerated. Cf. W. Seibt and D. Theodoridis, ‘Das Rätsel der Andrapoda-Siegel im ausgehenden 7. Jh. – Waren mehr Slawen oder mehr Armenier Opfer dieser Staatsaktion?’ Byzantinoslavica 60 (1999) 404 with n. 13; Seibt, W., ‘Neue Aspekte der Slawenpolitik Justinians II. Zur Person des Nebulos und der Problematik der Andrapoda-Siegel’, Vizantijskij Vremennik 55/2 (1998) 126–32Google Scholar; Y. Rotman, Les esclaves et l'esclavage : de la Méditerranée antique à la Méditerranée médiévale, VIe-XIe siècles, Histoire 66 (Paris 2004) 107–8; W. Brandes, Finanzverwaltung in Krisenzeiten: Untersuchungen zur byzantinischen Administration im 6.-9. Jahrhundert, Forschungen zur Byzantinischen Rechtsgeschichte 25 (Frankfurt 2002) 351–65 (hereafter Brandes, Finanzverwaltung).

6 Berlin 459/1911; Regling II, 334, no. 11; photo on suppl. 72, no. 11. For the correct dating cf. Zacos and Veglery, 182, with n. 2.

7 Voegtli et al. 72, no. 1015; pl. 11, no. 1015. A comparable seal is published in Zacos and Veglery, 3081. For this dignitary cf. R.-J. Lilie, C. Ludwig, T. Pratsch, I. Rochow et al. (eds.), Prosopographie der mittelbyzantinischen Zeit. Erste Abteilung (641–867), 6 vols. (Berlin 1999–2002) 743 (hereafter PmbZ).

8 Voegtli et al. 72, no. 1014; pl. 11, no. 1014. Cf. W. Seibt, ‘The Early Byzantine province of Lydia based on sigillographic evidence’, in E. Laflı and G. Labarre (eds.), Studies on the history and archaeology of Lydia from the Early Lydian period to Late Antiquity (Besançon, forthcoming).

9 Regling II, 335, nos. 13–14. Only no. 13 is illustrated on suppl. 72.

10 Regling ΙΙ, 334, no. 12; photo on suppl. 72, no. 12. Zacos and Veglery published a similar but not exactly parallel seal (no. 2038).

11 This seal was known to Gustave Schlumberger: Sigillographie de l'Empire byzantin (Paris 1884) 324–5, no. 3 (dated to the twelfth–thirteenth centuries). Regling presented it in his first sigillographic paper: ‘Byzantinische Bleisiegel’, in A. de Witte and V. Tourneur (eds.), Procès-verbaux et mémoires du Congrès international de numismatique et d'art de la médaille contemporaine, tenu à Bruxelles les 26, 27, 28 et 29 juin 1910 (Brussels 1910) 44–5; pl. 5, no. 5. Cf. also Regling, K., ‘Byzantinische Bleisiegel III’, Byzantinische Zeitschrift 24 (1923/24) 96Google Scholar, no. 4 (ninth century). The seal was also included in V. Laurent, Le Corpus des sceaux de l'Empire byzantin, Publications de l'Institut français d’études byzantines (Paris 1963–72) vol. II, 450 (first half of the ninth century) (hereafter Laurent, Corpus).

12 First published by loan Barnea, ‘Sigilii byzantine inedite din Dobrogea (II)’, Pontica 18 (1985) 237, and several times republished, e.g. Curta, F., ‘Quaestura exercitus: The evidence of lead seals’, Acta byzantina fennica 1 (2002) 25Google Scholar, no. 68; and C. Chiriac and L. Munteanu, ‘Trade connections between Asia Minor and the western Pontic area in the 4th century CE. Some sphragistic considerations’, in V. Cojocaru, A. Coşkun and M. Dana (eds.), Interconnectivity in the Mediterranean and Pontic world during the Hellenistic and Roman periods, Pontica et Mediterranea 3 (Cluj-Napoca 2014) 313, no. 27.

13 For this office cf. A. E. Gkoutzioukostas and X. M. Moniaros, Η περιφερειακή διοικητική αναδιοργάνωση της βυζαντινής αυτοκρατορίας από τον Ιουστινιανό Α΄ (527–65): η περίπτωση της Quaestura Iustiniana Exercitus, Εταιρεία Βυζαντινών Ερευνών 22 (Thessaloniki 2009).

14 J. Nesbitt and N. Oikonomidès, Catalogue of the Byzantine seals at Dumbarton Oaks and in the Fogg Museum of Art, vol. 2: south of the Balkans, the islands, south of Asia Minor (Washington, DC 1994) 28.2 (seventh century) (hereafter DOSeals); Laurent, Corpus V/3, 1697 (seventh century A.D.); Zacos and Veglery 1407 (seventh century).

15 Sigillographically this region is not well-documented: we have almost no information about Byzantine seal finds from prominent sites such as Sardis, Smyrna or Kyme. From this area only four main collections have been published to date: J.-Cl. Cheynet (ed.), Les sceaux byzantins de la collection Yavuz Tatış (Izmir 2019) (hereafter Tatış); idem, ‘Les sceaux byzantins du musée de Manisa’, Revue des études byzantines 56 (1998) 261–7 (hereafter REB); idem, ‘Les sceaux byzantins du musée de Selçuk (Éphèse)’, Revue numismatique 1999, 317–52 (hereafter Selçuk); as well as Laflı, E. and Seibt, W., ‘Seven Byzantine lead seals from the museum of Ödemiş in western Anatolia’, Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies 44/1 (2020) 21–39CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

16 The relationship between Pergamon and Sardeis, Thyateira, Magnesia epi Sipylo (in ecclesiastic sources known as Magnesia Anelios) and the rest of Lydia during the Byzantine period is not known in detail. It is, however, interesting to note that topographically Pergamon had strong relationships with inner Aegean sites, i.e. Sardeis and Apameia, during the Roman and Byzantine periods. Cf. Habicht, C., ‘New evidence on the province of Asia’, Journal of Roman Studies 65 (1975) 64–91CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

17 Nos. 5–6, 8–9, 16–17, 19–28 and 30–1.

18 Nos. 1–2, 4, 7, 10–13 and 29.

19 Some abbreviations in alphabetic order: diam. diameter; h. height; l. line; mid. middle; neg. negative; th. thickness; wg. weight. For the topographic definitions and personal names, Greek original forms are used.

20 S. Métivier, ‘Sceaux des musées de Kayseri et Niğde (Cappadoce byzantine)’, Studies in Byzantine Sigillography 10 (2010) 65, no. 1.

21 Tatış, no. 5.23.

22 Zacos and Veglery 863a and b, dated to the seventh century.

23 For the title “apo hypaton/hypatos”, cf. e.g. J. B. Bury, The imperial administrative system in the ninth century with a revised text of the Kletorologion of Philotheos (London 1911) 25–6 (hereafter Bury, Administrative).

24 Cf. J. Darrouzès, Notitiae Episcopatuum Ecclesiae Constantinopolitanae : Texte critique, introduction et notes, Géographie ecclésiastique de l'empire byzantin (Paris 1981) 456 and 459; G. Fedalto, Hierarchia Ecclesiastica Orientalis, Series episcoporum ecclesiarum christianarum orientalium, vol. 1: Patriarchatus Constantinopolitanus (Padua 1988) 17.22.3, 159 (hereafter Fedalto); and W. M. Ramsay, ‘The cities and bishoprics of Phrygia’, Journal of Hellenic Studies 4 (1883) 414.

25 We thank one of the anonymous readers for this suggestion.

26 Fedalto 159.

27 It is, however, possible that the findspot of this piece was made up by the seller, wishing to hide its true origin.

28 The comparanda are Zacos and Veglery, monogram 249 and more than 40 examples in this book (cf. p. 1945), and still more in other collections.

29 E.g. DO 58.106.4767.

30 J.-Cl. Cheynet, T. Gökyıldırım and V. Bulgurlu, Les sceaux byzantins du Musée archéologique d'Istanbul, İstanbul Araştırmaları Enstitüsü Kitapları 22 (Istanbul 2012), no. 8.87 (hereafter Istanbul).

31 Cf. Tozan, M., ‘Pergamon'un Yolları: Antikçağ’dan Bizans'a Bakırçay (Kaikos) Havzası’nın Yol Sistemi’, Tarih İncelemeleri Dergisi 32/2 (2017) 531–63Google Scholar.

32 For genikos kommerkiarios, cf. A. P. Kazhdan and N. Oikonomides, ‘Kommerkiarkios’, in The Oxford dictionary of Byzantium (Oxford/New York 1991) 1141 (hereafter ODB); and N. Oikonomides, ‘The role of the Byzantine state in the economy’, in A. E. Laiou (ed.), The economic history of Byzantium from the seventh through the fifteenth century, Dumbarton Oaks Studies 39 (Washington, DC 2002) 985–6; Brandes, Finanzverwaltung, 351–65; and F. Montinaro, ‘Les premiers commerciaires byzantins’, Travaux et Mémoires 17 (2013) [= C. Zuckerman (ed.), Constructing the seventh century (Paris)] 351–538 (hereafter TM).

33 Cf. Zacos and Veglery I/1, p. 145, table 1; DOSeals 4, 11.20.

34 Zacos and Veglery I 144; DOSeals 4, 11.20. Cf. also Triton auctions 11, 9.1.2008, 1118 with the same legend, but without the epithet stratiotikos logothetes, and the two elder sons of Constans II seem to have a short beard.

35 The rank title apo eparchon (ex praefectis) indicates the class of former eparchoi (praefecti), esp. former praefecti praetorio or praefecti urbis.

36 DO 58.106.709, 718, 723 and 5407; DO 55.1. (neg. nos. 60.123.9.-318 and 358). DO 58.106.718 is also edited in Zacos and Veglery 664b.

37 Selçuk, 342–343, no. 40, which is dated to the end of the seventh century.

38 Zacos and Veglery 664a.

39 Istanbul 5.17; DO 47.2.563; Lanz auctions (Munich) 144, 24.11.2008, 808; K. M. Konstantopoulos, Βυζαντιακὰ μολυβδόβουλλα: Συλλογὴ Αναστασίου Κ. Π. Σταμούλη (Athens 1930) no. 28; and a further one was found in Ephesos (unpublished).

40 Laurent, Orghidan, 296; Seyrig 20; (Hermann) Weber Collection 3.27 (photo in Vienna).

41 Tatış, no. 5.10.

42 Cf. A. H. M. Jones, J. R. Martindale and J. Morris, The prosopography of the Later Roman Empire: A.D. 527–641 (Kâlâdji - Zudius) (Cambridge 1992) vol. 3, 946, Nicolaus 4, which is dated very early to the mid-sixth/mid-seventh century A.D.; PmbZ 5543.

43 DO 55.1. (neg. no. 61.59.16–869), ed. Zacos and Veglery 2212: PmbZ 5549. On the obv. the invocative monogram Laurent type V with the tetragram τῷ δούλῳ σου, and the reverse legend ends with ἀμήν.

44 Similar to the monogram Zacos and Veglery no. 89, but with a different Gamma.

45 C. Sode, Byzantinische Bleisiegel in Berlin, vol. 2, Poikila Byzantina 14 (Bonn 1997) 252, dated very late to the eighth century A.D.

46 DO 58.106.4806, ed. Zacos and Veglery 1144.

47 Cf. W. Seibt, Die byzantinischen Bleisiegel in Österreich, part 1: Kaiserhof, Veröffentlichungen der Kommission für Byzantinistik 2/1 (Vienna 1978) 203 (hereafter Seibt, Österreich I); DO 58.106.3641 and 4417, and DO 55.1. (neg. no. 61.59.47–1588); Tatış, no. 5.112.

48 Zacos and Veglery 1488; on the obv. the invocative monogram Laurent V (without a tetragram).

49 For the title resp. command of “stratelates”, cf. A.-K. Wassiliou-Seibt, ‘From magister militum to strategos: the evolution of the highest military commands in Early Byzantium (5th–7th c.)’, TM 21/1 (2017) [= B. Caseau, V. Prigent and A. Sopracasa (eds.), Οὗ δῶρόν εἰμι τὰς γραφὰς βλέπων νόει. Mélanges Jean-Claude Cheynet (Paris)] 789–802; Bury, Administrative, 22–4.

50 For the office of epi ton deeseon, cf. Kazhdan, ‘Epi ton deeson’, in ODB, 724; Bury, Administrative, 77–8; Laurent, Corpus II, p. 110; and N. Oikonomidès, Les listes de préséance byzantines des IXe et Xe siècles. Introduction, texte, traduction et commentaire, Le Monde byzantin (Paris 1972) 322.

51 L'Institut français d’études byzantines 815, ed. Laurent, Corpus II 235.

52 It is not clear why Laurent preferred to relate this figure to St Paul (Laurent, Corpus V/3, 1689; cf. also V/1, 254).

53 DO 55.1.4676 and 58.106.1836; DOSeals 3, 14.6.

54 Zacos and Veglery 1249b.

55 Tatış, no. 6.17.

56 DOSeals 3, 14.6 and Cheynet, Tatış, no. 6.17. confused this Council with that of Trullo (692), but cf. also PmbZ 7343.

57 DOSeals 3, 14.7; Laurent, Corpus V/1, 254.

58 Seals from the period 681–85. Cf. Zacos and Veglery 22; DOSeals 6, 23; I. V. Sokolova, Государственный Эрмитаж. Печати византийских императоров. Каталог коллекции (St. Petersburg 2007) 57–8.

59 Laurent, Vatican 7; photo on pl. 44.

60 DO 58.106.483, ed. Zacos and Veglery 23; DOSeals 6, 24.1.

61 When Justinian II returned to power in 705, his immediate predecessor and rival, Tiberios III, succeeded in escaping from Constantinople. He was later captured and executed together with his predecessor, the ex-Emperor Leontios, who had been responsible for Justinian's first overthrow. Their bodies were thrown into the sea, but were recovered and buried on the island of Prote: Cf. Grierson, P. et al. , ‘The tombs and obits of the Byzantine emperors (337–1042), with an additional note’, Dumbarton Oaks Papers 16 (1962) 51CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

62 Cf. Seibt, Österreich I, 77–8.

63 Zacos and Veglery 27.

64 Zacos and Veglery 28.

65 Zacos and Veglery 29. Cf. also J. D. Breckenridge, ‘The numismatic iconography of Justinian II (685–695, 705–711 A.D.)’, Numismatic Notes and Monographs 144 (1959) 1–104.

66 Zacos and Veglery 849a.

67 At last Münz-Zentrum 138, 4.–6. 7. 2007, 463, and auction obolos by nomos 14, 15. 12. 2019, 652.

68 The Körner Collection, no. 10 (unpublished).

69 E.g. Zacos and Veglery 849b; DO 58.106.2343; Triton auctions 11, 8.–9. 1. 2008, 1129; for a seal in the Museum of Marmaris, cf. E. Laflı and W. Seibt, ‘Five Byzantine lead seals of the seventh century A.D. from Marmaris in Caria (southwestern Turkey)’, in Zh. Zhekova and T. Todorov (eds.), Αντιχαρίσματος ἐπισφράγισις. Юбилеен сборник в чест на 70-годишнината на проф. д.и.н. Иван Йорданов / A tribute to Prof. Ivan Jordanov's 70th anniversary, Konstantin Preslavsky University of Shumen, Center for Byzantine Studies, In honorem 6 (Shumen 2019) 351–2, no. 5, 355, fig. 5.

70 Cf. PmbZ 2558.

71 Cf. Zacos and Veglery 1490A; auction Münz-Zentrum 100, 8.–10. 9. 1999 = auction Essen 79, 17.–18. 3. 2000, 341; PmbZ 2560.

72 First edition: Braunlin, M. and Nesbitt, J., ‘Selections from a private collection on Byzantine bullae’, Byzantion 68 (1998) 177Google Scholar, no. 20. The seal belonged to the former private Fleischmann Collection which is now in DO. We thank John Nesbitt for this information, and Noah Fleischmann, Michael Braunlin and Jonathan Shea for the permission to republish the seal in this paper.

73 Anthologia Palatina IX 656. Cf. also Hepding, H., ‘Rouphinion alsos’, Philologus 88 (1933) 90–103Google Scholar and 241–3; P. Gros, ‘Des Attalides aux empereurs, Pergame et le culte des souverains’, Revue archéologique 63/1 (2017) 85–100.

74 Feissel, D., ‘Le Roufinion de Pergame au VIe siècle d'après un sceau nouvellement publié’, REB 57 (1999) 263–9CrossRefGoogle Scholar (hereafter Feissel).

75 Cf. Feissel 267.

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