Collections byzantines du MAH - Genève
Maria Campagnolo-Pothitou and Jean-Claude Cheynet
Janet Zakos’ donation to the City of Geneva, in 2004, brought the Numismatic Department of the city’s Art and History Museum an exceptional set of Byzantine seals and coins comprising 480 items. It comes from the collection of seals that Georges Zacos, a Byzantine antiquities dealer and renowned expert in seals, started in the mid twentieth century. The collection spans the period from the eighth to the fourteenth century and is particularly interesting for its Byzantine seals. Imperial bullae, including two rare gold pieces; patriarchal or ecclesiastical seals; a large number of bullae from members of the civil and military aristocracy with famous patronyms such as Komnenos, Doukas, Palaeologus, Lascaris, Sklèros, or Radenos, give a fairly complete view of the administrative and social organisation of the Byzantine Empire. A ninth-century boullotèrion, the gold seal ring of the strategist Theophilos, and tesserae for charitable purposes, including one of the Empress Eudocia, add to the richness and diversity of this collection and its excellent conservation facilitates legibility and illustration and increases its historical importance.
The publication of the collection is an occasion to study already published seals in the light of the latest sigillographical research and finds, and to see a fair number of rare, unique or previously unpublished pieces, the most extraordinary of which is no doubt the five solidi chrysobullon of Constantine IX Monomachos.
This catalogue is the last in a series of five works on the Byzantine collections of Geneva Art and History museums, all published by 5 Continents Editions.
Maria Campagnolo-Pothitou is an historian and scientist in the Numismatic Department of the Geneva Art and History Museum.
Jean-Claude Cheynet is the director of the Research Centre on the History and Civilisation of Byzantium and professor of Byzantine history at the University of Paris-Sorbonne.