Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-65dc7cd545-jbgjn Total loading time: 0.619 Render date: 2021-07-24T08:03:13.470Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": true, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true, "newEcommerce": true, "newUsageEvents": true }

Seven Byzantine lead seals from the museum of Ödemiş in western Anatolia

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 February 2020

Ergün Laflı
Dokuz Eylül Üniversitesi, İzmir
Werner Seibt
Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften,


This short essay presents seven Byzantine lead seals, all of which originate from the local museum in Ödemiş in the province of Izmir in western Turkey. Almost all of them came as acquisition to Ödemiş by local antique dealers. All the pieces have been treated and interpreted here sigillographically for the first time. This small collection of seals is important regarding the administration of the theme of Thrakesion, especially about the offices of the seal owners, and the society of Cayster valley during the Byzantine period.

Copyright © Centre for Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek Studies, University of Birmingham 2020

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below.


1 So far, the most detailed study of the Cayster valley during the Byzantine period is done by Andreas Külzer: Külzer, A., ‘Streifzüge durch das Tal des Kaӱstrios (Küçük Menderes): Historisch-geographische Impressionen aus Westanatolien’, in idem and Popović, M.S. (eds.), Space, landscapes and settlements in Byzantium. Studies in historical geography of the eastern Mediterranean, presented to Johannes Koder (Vienna and Novi Sad 2017) 195213 and 475–78Google Scholar.

2 Hypaepa was as protothronos a suffragan epishopric of Ephesus (Asia) and became a metropolis under Isaac II Angelos, but was again reduced to a bishopric under Theodore I Laskaris in A.D. 1216. Cf. Preiser-Kapeller, J., Der Episkopat im späten Byzanz. Ein Verzeichnis der Metropoliten und Bischöfe des Patriarchats von Konstantinopel in der Zeit von 1204 bis 1453 (Saarbrücken 2008) 115Google Scholar; Darrouzès, J., Notitiae episcopatuum ecclesiae Constantinopolitanae (Paris 1981) e.g. 310Google Scholar, notitia 10, 11 and apparatus criticus.

3 Külzer, ‘Kaӱstrios’, 204–5; Meriç, R., ‘Das Hinterland von Ephesos. Archäologisch-topographische Forschungen im Kaystros-Tal’, Ergänzungshefte zu den Jahresheften des Österreichischen Archäologischen Institutes in Wien 12 (Vienna 2009) 104105Google Scholar.

4 Külzer, ‘Kaӱstrios’, 200, note 20; 203, note 31; 407, fig. x-4; 408, fig. x-6. For Thrakesion cf. Kountoura-Galake, E., Lampakes, St., Lounghis, T., Savvides, A., and Vlyssidou, V., Η Μικρά Ασία των θɛμάτων. Έρɛυνɛς πάνω στη γɛωγραφική φυσιογνωμία και προσωπογραφία των βυζαντινών θɛμάτων της Μικράς Ασίας (7ος−11ος αι.) / Asia Minor and its themes: Studies on the geography and prosopography of the Byzantine themes of Asia Minor (7th-1lth century), The National Hellenic Research Foundation, Institute for Byzantine Research, Research series 1 (Athens 1998) 201–34 and 407–24Google Scholar.

5 Haldon, J., ‘Military service, military lands, and the status of soldiers: Current problems and interpretations’, Dumbarton Oaks Papers 47 (1993) 48, note 119Google Scholar.

6 On all of the former researches in the Cayster valley cf. Külzer, ‘Kaӱstrios’, 200–202. A primary survey of Hypaepa and Pyrgion: Weber, G., ‘Hypaepa, le Kaleh d'Aïasourat, Birghiet Oedémich’, Revue des études grecques 5/17 (1892) 721CrossRefGoogle Scholar In a currently ongoing research in the course of his Ph.D. thesis, Ali Özkan at the Dokuz Eylül University in Izmir focuses on the Late Antique-Early Byzantine archaeology and sites in the Cayster valley, especially in the area of Tire.

7 Cf. Reinach, S., ‘Chronique d'Orient’, Revue archéologique 3 (1885) 97116Google Scholar.

8 For this project and its results: Barnes, H. and Whittow, M., ‘The Oxford University/British Institute of Archaeology at Ankara survey of medieval castles of Anatolia (1993). Yılanlı Kalesi: preliminary report and new perspectives’, Anatolian Studies 44 (1994) 187206CrossRefGoogle Scholar; also cf. Foss, C., ‘Explorations in mount Tmolus’, California Studies in Classical Antiquity 11 (1978) 2160CrossRefGoogle Scholar; also published as idem, History and archaeology of Byzantine Asia Minor (Aldershot 1990) paper IXGoogle Scholar.

9 Külzer, ‘Kaӱstrios’, 204 and 206.

10 Çetin, S., ‘İzmir'in Gizemli Antik Kentleri: Palaiapolis ve Neikaia’, İzmir Kültür ve Turizm Dergisi 3/18 (2012) 7478Google Scholar (hereafter Çetin)

11 Çetin, ‘Palaiapolis’, 77. Byzantine epigraphic finds in the museum of Ödemiş are currently being studied by E. Laflı.

12 Unpublished; personal observation in March 2017.

13 So far, this excavation remains as unpublished; some architectural blocks, such as an impost capital with a cross, are being exposed in the garden of the museum of Ödemiş. We would like to thank Mrs Feride Kat, the new director of the museum, for this information.

14 Çetin, ‘Palaiapolis’, 78.

15 Schultze, V., Altchristliche Städte und Landschaften, vol. 2/2: Kleinasien (Leipzig 1926) 8485Google Scholar Also cf. Çetin, ‘Palaiapolis’, figs. at pp. 77–78. On the topography and archaeological remains of this site cf. Sevin, V., Sevin, N. Arslan and Çetin, S., Neikeia, Unutulmuş Bir Antik Kent, Ödemiş Müzesi Yayını 1 (Ödemiş 2013)Google Scholar; and Sevim, V., ‘Neikaia: Kadim Bir Madenci Kenti’, in Arslan, M. and Baz, F. (eds.), Arkeoloji, Tarih ve Epigrafi'nin Arasında: Prof. Dr. Vedat Çelgin'in 68. Doğum Günü Onuruna Makaleler (Istanbul 2018) 803808Google Scholar.

16 Unpublished.

17 Unpublished.

18 Some fibulae as well as Armenian inscriptions were published from this museum: Laflı, E. and Buora, M., ‘Fibulae in the museum of Ödemiş (western Turkey)’, Archiv orientální 80/3 (2012) 417–34Google Scholar; idem and Bozkuş, Y. Deveci, ‘Some epigraphic and archaeological documents from western Anatolia during the late Ottoman period’, Post-Medieval Archaeology 48/2 (2014) 295–99, nos. 5–8Google Scholar.

19 For similar pieces in recent time cf. Wassiliou-Seibt, A.-K. and Seibt, W., Der byzantinische Mensch in seinem Umfeld. Weitere Bleisiegel der Sammlung Zarnitz im Museum August Kestner (Rahden, Westphalia 2015), no. 1Google Scholar.

20 Such a Victoria was usual on official imperial seals until the mid-sixth century A.D.; Justinian I placed a cross on either side of Victoria, as if it was an angel. Probably Justin II preferred a bust of the Theotokos instead of Victoria for the first time [cf. Seibt, W., ‘Review of Zacos and Veglery’, Byzantinoslavica 36 (1975) 208209, conc. no. 3cGoogle Scholar], though in DOSeals VI 6.1 this type is again attributed to Justinian I.

21 A Meligalas was mentioned by some seals of the ninth century A.D.; cf. Zacos, G. and Veglery, A., Byzantine lead seals I (Basel 1972) nos. 21722178Google Scholar.

22 This monogram is similar to the type 453 in: Zacos and Veglery, I, pl. 241.

23 From the fourth to the sixth century A.D. the Latin magister militum could be translated as στρατηγός or στρατηλάτης, but after the reforms of Heraclius at the latest only στρατηγός was the terminus technicus for the highest military commands, and στρατηλάτης one step lower. Cf. Wassiliou-Seibt, A.-K., ‘From magister militum to strategos: The evolution of the highest military commands in early Byzantium (5th-7th c.)’, Travaux et Mémoires 21/1 (=Mélanges J.-Cl. Cheynet) (Paris 2017) 789–96Google Scholar.

24 Cf. Zacos and Veglery, I, no. 1945 and pl. 236.

25 For the civil functions of the anthypatos in the seventh century A.D. cf. Brubaker, L. and Haldon, J., Byzantium in the iconoclast era c. 680–850. A history (Cambridge 2011) 671–79Google Scholar.

26 Zacos and Veglery, I, no. 2881; cf. Martindale, J.R., The prosopography of the Later Roman Empire 3/1-2. A.D. 527–641 (Cambridge 1992) 698Google Scholar, Ioannes 212 (dated to A.D. 550–650). In this case we do not know its provenance, perhaps Istanbul, where most of the Zacos collection was acquired.

27 Several thematic kometes of korte are attested in sigillographic sources; see, for example, a later κόμης τῆς κόρτης τοῦ Ὀψικίου in Nesbitt, J. and Oikonomides, N., Catalogue of Byzantine seals at Dumbarton Oaks and in the Fogg Museum of Art (hereafter DOSeals) III: West, Northwest and Central Asia Minor and the Orient (Washington D.C. 1996) 39.40Google Scholar. For κόμης τῆς κόρτης under the strategos cf. Oikonomides, N., Les listes de préséance byzantines des IXe et Xe siècles. Introduction, texte et commentaire (Paris 1972) 341Google Scholar.

28 Cf. DOSeals III 2.50–51.

29 Cf. Wassiliou-Seibt, ‘From magister militum to strategos’, 799–800, 802.

30 DO 55.1.1213 (photo no. BZS 1955.1.1213), eds. Zacos and Veglery, I, no. 2462; DOSeals III 2.53. Cf. Lilie, R.-J., Ludwig, C., Pratsch, T., Rochow, I. et al. , Prosopographie der mittelbyzantinischen Zeit. Erste Abteilung (641–867), 6 vols. (Berlin-New York, 1999–2002)Google Scholar (hereafter PmbZ) #7618.

31 Istanbul, Archaeological Museum 370, ed. Bulgurlu, V., Bizans Kurşun Mühürleri (Istanbul 2007) no. 191Google Scholar; Cheynet, J.-Cl., Gökyıldırım, T. and Bulgurlu, V., Les sceaux byzantins du Musée archéologique d'Istanbul (Istanbul 2012) no. 3.129Google Scholar. This seal was already mentioned in Ebersolt, J., ‘Sceaux byzantins du musée de Constantinople’, Revue numismatique IV/18 (1919) 403, no. 534Google Scholar, though with the incorrect name Ioannes. The same mistake is repeated in PmbZ #3275.

32 Zacos and Veglery, I, no. 2132; DOSeals III 2.43.

33 Theophanes I 431. Cf. also Seibt, W., ‘Drei byzantinische Bleisiegel aus Ephesos’, Litterae Numismaticae Vindobonenses 1 (1979) 148151Google Scholar (seal of a Leon patrikios and hypostrategos of Thrakesion).

34 Their pictures were published in an exhibition catalogue: Ödekan, A. (ed.), “Kalanlar”, 12.-13. Yüzyıllarda Türkiye'de Bizans / The “remnants”, 12th and 13th centuries Byzantine objects in Turkey (Istanbul 2007)Google Scholar.

35 E.g. G. Schlumberger, ‘Amulettes byzantins anciens, destinés à combattre les maléfices et maladies', REG 1892, l.c. 137; and Spier, J., ‘Medieval Byzantine magical amulets and their tradition’, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 56 (1993) pl. 3, no. 37CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

36 Bonner, C., Studies in magical amulets chiefly Graeco-Egyptian, University of Michigan Studies (Ann Arbor, MI 1950) 90Google Scholar; and Björklund, H., ‘Classical traces of metamorphosis in the Byzantine hystera formula’, Dumbarton Oaks Papers 70 (2016) 151–66Google Scholar.

37 Cf. for a Judaeo-Christian amulet from the British Museum with the reference to St Sisinnios (posted on the website of the BM): Barb, A.A., ‘Three elusive amulets’, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 27 (1964) 1316CrossRefGoogle Scholar. We would like to thank to Georgi Parpulov for this reference. Cf. also Schlumberger, G., ‘Amulettes byzantines anciennes’, in idem, Mélanges d'archéologie byzantine: monnaies, médailles, méreaux, jetons, amulettes, bulles d'or et de plomb, poids de verre et de bronze, ivoires, objets d'orfèvrerie, bagues, reliquaires (Paris 1895) 117–40Google Scholar; Vikan, G., ‘Art, medicine, and magic in Early Byzantium’, Dumbarton Oaks Papers 38 (1984) 6586CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Schoneveld, K., ‘Ein frühbyzantinisches Bronzeamulett im Römisch-Germanischen Zentralmuseum. Zur Genese der mittelbyzantinischen Hystera-Amulette’, Jahrbuch des RGZM 61 (2014) 267306Google Scholar; and Bosselmann-Ruickbie, A., ‘A Byzantine casting mould for a hystera (womb) amulet and a cross in the Museum Schnütgen, Cologne: A contribution to the cultural and religious history of Byzantium and the material culture of Byzantine magic’, in Drauschke, J., Kislinger, E., Kühtreiber, K., Kühtreiber, T., Scharrer-Liška, G. and Vida, T. (eds.), Lebenswelten zwischen Archäologie und Geschichte, Festschrift für Falko Daim zu seinem 65. Geburtstag, Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum, Monographien 150 (Mainz 2018) 629–44Google Scholar.

38 The story of St Sisinnios (also Sissinnios and latinized as Sisinnius), assisting his sister Melitene against the demon Gyllou and depicted in “holy rider” charms, occurs in a group of different texts, material and contexts: Cf. Greenfield, R.P.H., ‘Saint Sisinnios, the Archangel Michael and the Female Demon Gylou: the typology of the Greek literary stories’, Βυζαντινά 15 (1989), 83142Google Scholar; Fauth, W., ‘Der christliche Reiterheilige des Sisinnios-Typs im Kampf gegen eine vielnamige Dämonin’, Vigiliae Christianae 53/4 (1999) 401–25Google Scholar <>; P. Donceel-Voûte, ‘The (in)visible evil in sacred space: Codes, keys and clues to reading its image’, in W.E. Keil, S. Kiyanrad, C. Theis and L. Willer (eds.), Zeichentragende Artefakte im sakralen Raum, Zwischen Präsenz und UnSichtbarkeit, Materiale Textkulturen 20 (Open access 2018) 17–54 <>; Demirer, Ü. and Kraus, T.J., ‘Ein Bronze-Amulett aus Kibyra mit Reiterheiligem und griechischem Psalm 90,1’, Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 195 (2015) 5862Google Scholar <>; and Pancaroğlu, O., ‘The itinerant dragon-slayer: Forging paths of image and identity in Medieval Anatolia’, Gesta 43/2 (2004) 152–53CrossRefGoogle Scholar <>. Furthermore, a boundary stone from Dorylaeum near modern Eskişehir (=MAMA V 55) refers to a church or a monastery named after Sisinnios: Nowakowski, P., Inscribing the saints in Late Antique Anatolia, Supplements to the Journal of Juristic Papyrology 34 (Warsaw 2018) 418Google Scholar.

Cited by

Send article to Kindle

To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Seven Byzantine lead seals from the museum of Ödemiş in western Anatolia
Available formats

Send article to Dropbox

To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

Seven Byzantine lead seals from the museum of Ödemiş in western Anatolia
Available formats

Send article to Google Drive

To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

Seven Byzantine lead seals from the museum of Ödemiş in western Anatolia
Available formats

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *