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E02904: Three lead seals of the metropolitan bishops of Hierapolis in southwest Phrygia (west central Asia Minor) with labelled images of *Philip (the Apostle, S00109). Probably 6th-7th c. or later.

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posted on 2017-06-02, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
Seal 1:

Lead seal. Diameter: 37 mm; Th. 3 mm.

Found in the south sector of the atrium of the cathedral amongst debris datable to the 11th/12th c. Triangular hole in the upper left-hand quarter of the obverse, probably caused during the striking of the seal.

Obverse: depiction of a bearded man with nimbus, standing. He is wearing a tunica and cloak, and is holding a long palm leaf in his left hand, while blessing with his right hand. The vertical label, flanking the figure, reads: [ὁ] ἅ|γ|ι|ο|ς Φ|ί|λι|ππ|ο|ς/'Saint Philip'.

Reverse: inscription in four lines, surrounded by a floral ornament: Γρη|γορίῳ με|τροπ(ολίτῃ) Ἱε|ραπόλ(εως)/'(Seal) of Gregorios, metropolitan (bishop) of Hierapolis.'

In spite of the archaeological context of the find, D'Andria plausibly argues that the shape of letters is characteristic of a much earlier period, perhaps the 6th/7th c.

Text: D'Andria 2005=2006, 359-361.

Seal 2:

Lead seal. Probably from the former Schlumberger collection. Diameter: 21-24 mm.

Obverse: image of a man with nimbus, standing. He is holding a large processional cross in his right hand. To the left of him there is a shrub or a palm leaf. Inscription flanking the figure reads: ὁ ἅγιος Φίλι- ππος/'Saint Philip.'

Reverse: a monogram, probably reading: + Χριστοφόρος μητροπολίτης Ἱεραπόλεως Πακατιανῆς/'+ Christophoros, metropolitan (bishop) of Hierapolis of (the province of Phrygia) Pakatiane' (Laurent's interpretation. According to Schlumberger, less plausibly, the monogram reads: + Φίλιππος μητροπολίτης Ἱεραπόλεως Φρυγίας Πακατιανῆς/'+ Philippos, metropolitan (bishop) of Hierapolis of (the province of) Phrygia Pakatiane').

Dating: probably 6th/7th c., as suggested by Laurent, although Schlumberger opted for a date in the 11th or 12th c. Sylvain Destephen records the owner of the seal as bishop Christophoros in the third volume of the Prosopographie chrétienne du Bas-Empire, and places him in the period: 575-625 (see PCBE 3, s.v. Christophoros 2).

Text: Laurent 1963, no. 728.

Seal 3:

Lead seal. Dimensions not specified. Found in the Byzantine Courtyard House at the ancient agora.

Obverse: depiction of the Archangel Michael.

Reverse: A man with nimbus, standing. Fragmentary inscription: [Φίλιπ]|πος/'Philip.'

Paul Arthur supposes that the seal belonged to a cleric, probably a bishop. The building, where the seal was found, dates probably to c. 11th c. and could have served as the administrative centre of a large estate. Some coins of the emperors Leo VI (886-912), Michael IV (1034-1041), and Constantine X (1057-1059) were also unearthed there. It is possible that the seal dates to the 6th/7th c., like the two object discussed above, but the image of the Archangel Michael, shown on the obverse, is a characteristic feature of middle Byzantine seals.

Text: Arthur 2006, 93.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Philip the Apostle, ob. 1st c. : S00109

Saint Name in Source


Image Caption 1

Seal 1. From: D'Andria 2005-2006, 360.

Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Inscribed objects Images and objects - Rings and seals


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Asia Minor

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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

Hierapolis Nicomedia Νικομήδεια Nikomēdeia Izmit Πραίνετος Prainetos Nicomedia

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Use of Images

  • Private ownership of an image

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops

Cult Activities - Cult Related Objects



Edition: Seal 1: D'Andria, F., "L'iscrizione dipinta con la Preghiera di Manasse a Hierapolis di Frigia", Rendiconti della Pontificia Accademia Romana di Archeologia 78 (2005-2006), 359-361. Seal 2: Laurent, V., Le corpus de sceaux de l'empire byzantin, vol. 5/1: L'église (Paris: Éditions du Centre national de la Recherche scientifique, 1963), no. 728. Schlumberger, G., Sigillographie de l'Empire byzantin (Paris: E. Leroux, 1884), 255. Seal 3: Arthur, P., Byzantine and Turkish Hierapolis (Pamukkale): An Archaeological Guide (Istanbul: Ege Yayınları, 2006), 93. D'Andria, F., "L'iscrizione dipinta con la Preghiera di Manasse a Hierapolis di Frigia", Rendiconti della Pontificia Accademia Romana di Archeologia 78 (2005-2006), 361. Further reading: D'Andria, F., "The sanctuary of St Philip in Hierapolis and the tombs of saints in Anatolian cities", in: J.R. Brandt, E. Hagelberg, G. Bjørnstad, and S. Ahrens, Life and Death in Asia Minor in Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine Times (Studies in Funerary Archaeology 10, Oxford - Philadelphia: Oxbow, 2017), 3-18. Arthur, P., Byzantine and Turkish Hierapolis (Pamukkale): An Archaeological Guide (Istanbul: Ege Yayınları, 2006), 111-112. Destephen, S., Prosopographie du Diocèse d'Asie (325-641) (Prosopographie chrétienne du Bas-Empire 3, Paris: Association des amis du centre d'histoire et civilisation de Byzance, 2008), s.v. Christophoros 2. Reference works: Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 57, 1376-1377.

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