Russian version

Copyright © 2001 by Sergei V. Rjabchikov. All Rights Reserved.


by Sergei V. Rjabchikov

A coin (perhaps even a pendant seal) with an unclear record is housed in the Odessa Museum of Numismatics (Odessa, Ukraine). Grigory I. Makandarov, the director of this museum, believes that it may be a coin of the Prince Oleg-Mikhail of Tmutarakan'; besides, he supposes that it may be a new type of coins; in any event this specimen was found in Taman' (Krasnodar Territory, Russia) (G.I. Makandarov personal communications: October 6 and 8, 2001).

The obverse of the coin is presented in figure 1; the reverse in figure 2.

zz1.gif zz2.gif

Click on the illustrations!
Figures 1 and 2.

My own tracings of both sides of the coin are presented in figure 3.


Figure 3.

Here Saint Constantine the Great, the Equal of the Apostles, an Byzantine Emperor, is depicted; he holds the Holy Cross in his hand. This picture can be compared with some masterpieces of the Byzantine and Old Russian art (1). Near this Cross there is a letter, k, which denotes the name Konstantin'' 'Constantine'. Moreover, the rune Dagaz 'day', an emblem of the Old Russian town Tmutarakan' (2), is seen to the right of the Saint's picture. (Perhaps here the sign of the sun is depicted, too.) Indeed, the Christian name of Prince Mstislav Vladimirovich from Tmutarakan' was Constantine (3).

Now one can read the text of the reverse. The letters ms may be an abridgement of the name Mstislav. The letter m turned through 90 degrees is also presented in a graffito from the Old Russian town Belaya Vezha (the Tmutarakan' Principality) (Rjabchikov 1998). To appreciate the significance of other words let us consider Old Russian pendant seals of Constantine (4). Saint Constantine holding a cross is represented on the obverses of the seals. In Valentin L. Yanin's (1970: 33) opinion they are relevant to Prince Igor' Yaroslavich, although Nikolai P. Likhachev (1928: 157-8; 1930: 276-7) believes that their owner was Prince Mstislav Vladimirovich. One can agree with the latter hypothesis. The basic records of both seals are reproduced in Yanin 1970: 172 (No 32, 33). The first record reads + K[uri]e bohqei tw sw doul[w] Kwn 'O Lord, help Your slave Constantine!' (Yanin 1970: 32). The second record reads K[uri]e b[oh]q[e]i on[hso] tw no[shrw] d[oul]w Ko 'O Lord, help Your sinful slave Constantine!' With these results the rest of the text on the coin reads K[uri]e b[o]h[qei] on[hso] t[w] ie[ro]u[tai] do[ulw] Kw s[a]r[ki] 'O Lord, help Your slave Constantine who is devoted himself to You and is a sinner!' (Perhaps here the sign of eyes is depicted as well.) Therefore this specimen may be dated to the time of the reign of Prince Mstislav Vladimirovich, i.e. from 988 till 1036.


I should like to thank Grigory I. Makandarov, the director of the Odessa Museum of Numismatics (Odessa, Ukraine), for kindly sending me the tracings of both sides of the coin; their photos, and for permission to publish these photos.


1. See Likhachova 1977: plate 56; Grenberg 1983: 143, photo.

2. See Rjabchikov 1998-2001; 2000; 2001a; 2001b.

3. See Rapov 1998: 310.

4. See Yanin 1970: 172, comments in pp. 32-3.


Grenberg, Y.I., 1983. "Konstantin i Elena" Sofiyskogo sobora v Novgorode (Nekotorye vyvody iz tekhnologicheskogo issledovaniya zhivopisi). In: S.V. Yamshchikov (ed.) Drevny Novgorod: Istoriya. Iskusstvo. Arkheologiya. Novye issledovaniya. Moscow: Izobrazitel'noe iskusstvo, pp. 141-64.

Likhachev, N.P., 1928. Materialy dlya istorii vizantiyskoy i russkoy sfragistiki. Vyp. 1. Trudy Muzeya paleografii. Vol. 1. Leningrad.

Likhachev, N.P., 1930. Materialy dlya istorii vizantiyskoy i russkoy sfragistiki. Vyp. 2. Trudy Muzeya paleografii. Vol. 2. Leningrad.

Likhachova, V.D., 1977. Vizantiyskaya miniatyura: pamyatniki vizantiyskoy miniatyury IX-XV vekov v sobraniyakh Sovetskogo Soyuza. Byzantine Miniature: Masterpieces of Byzantine Miniature of IXth-XVth Centuries in Soviet Collections. Moscow: Iskusstvo Art Publishers.

Rapov, O.M., 1998. Russkaya Tserkov' v IX-pervoy treti XII v. Prinyatie khristianstva. Moscow: Russkaya panorama.

Rjabchikov, S.V., 1998. Delovye zapisi drevnikh russov. Dusha moya, 18(35): 8.

Rjabchikov, S.V., 2000. Tmutarakanskie graffiti. Krasnodar: Stil.

Rjabchikov, S.V., 2001a. Tmutarakanskie nadpisi. Vol. 1. Krasnodar: Stil.

Rjabchikov, S.V., 2001b. Tmutarakanskie nadpisi. Vol. 2. Krasnodar: Stil.

Rjabchikov, S.V., 1998-2001. Tmutarakan', an Outlying Land:

Yanin, V.L., 1970. Aktovye pechati Drevney Rusi X-XV vv. Vol. 1. Pechati X-nachala XIII v. Moscow: Nauka.

Copyright © 2001 by Sergei V. Rjabchikov. All Rights Reserved.

Published 30 October 2001.

Sergei V. Rjabchikov, Krasnodar, RUSSIA.

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