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E01392: Seals with bilingual Greek/Latin inscriptions of owners, and with images of saints: *Mary (Mother of Christ, S00033), *John the Baptist (S00020), and *Gabriel (the Archangel, S00192). Found in various locations on Crete. 5th-7th c.

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posted on 2016-05-21, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
The seals presented below are of unknown provenance. They are kept in the Museum of Crete and in the stores of the Ephorate of Antiquities in Heraklion.

1) A circular lead seal (diameter 0.023 m) with a depiction of Mary, holding the Christ Child, on the obverse, and a cross-like monogram Δημητρίου/'Of Demetrios' on the reverse.

Stylistically dated to the 7th c.

Text: Tsougarakis 1984, no. 2; SEG 34, 925.

2) A circular lead seal (diameter 0.025 m) with the scene of probably the Annunciation, showing Mary and Gabriel the Archangel, on the obverse, and three cross-like monograms on the reverse. One of them was interpreted as: Σεργίου/'Of Sergios'.

Stylistically dated to the late 6th-7th c.

Text: Tsougarakis 1984, no. 3; SEG 34, 926.

3) An oval lead seal (diameter 0.02 m) with the scene of the baptism of Christ, showing John the Baptist, Christ, probably an angel, and the Holy Ghost, on the reverse, and a Greek inscription on the obverse, written in the Latin alphabet:

P[e]tṛ | Чscri|bon(ο)s = Πέτρου(?) σκρίβωνος / 'Of Peter, skribon'

The seal belonged to a skribon, a high ranking member of the military unit of exkubitores - originating as a 5th c. imperial guard, but in the 8th c. transformed into elite troops of the Byzantine army. The habit of writing in Greek with the use of the Latin alphabet is also attested, for example, by signatures of notaries, preserved in late antique papyri.
Stylistically dated to the 6th c.

Text: Tsougarakis 1984, no. 4; SEG 34, 927.

4) A lead seal with the name Σεργίου/'Of Sergios' on the obverse and a Greek inscription, written in the Latin alphabet on the reverse:

)ЧLЧ | TSTḤE | T. . = Dulu | t[e]s The|[o]t[oku] = Δούλου τῆς Θεοτόκου / 'Of the servant of the God-Bearer'

Stylistically dated to the 5th-6th c.

Text: Xanthoudides 1903, 116-117; Tsougarakis 1984, 734; SEG 34, 929.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Mary, Mother of Christ : S00033 John the Baptist : S00020 Gabriel, the Archangel : S00192

Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Inscribed objects Images and objects - Rings and seals Images and objects - Narrative scenes Images and objects - Representative images


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Aegean islands and Cyprus

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Crete Salamis Σαλαμίς Salamis Salamis Farmagusta Far Κωνσταντία Konstantia Constantia

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult activities - Use of Images

  • Private ownership of an image

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Soldiers Other lay individuals/ people

Cult Activities - Cult Related Objects



Edition: Tsougarakis, D., "Sceaux byzantins de Crète", Bulletin de correspondance hellénique 108 (1984), 731-734. Xanthoudides, S., "Χριστιανικαί αρχαιότητες εκ Κρήτης", Journal International d'Archéologie Numismatique 6 (1903), 116-117. Further reading: Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 34, 925-927, 929.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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