A highly interesting Armenian stamp seal dated to 1100
Lot 2830
ARMENIA. Kevork (Georg), 1100. Stamp Seal (Orichalcum, 15x13x26 mm, 6.64 g). ‘ՓՐԿ’ԻՉ .Դ / ԳԷՈՐԳ / II00 ('Savior[.]D / Georg / 1100' in Armenian). Unpublished and unique. A highly interesting medieval stamp seal. Thin scratch on the obverse, otherwise, very fine.

As a medieval Armenian stamp seal, this piece is already of great interest, but what makes it truly exceptional is that it bears the number 1100 in Arabic numerals in the third line. The most obvious explanation for this number is that it is a date, and since it is written in Arabic numerals and not in Armenian, it can only be a date AD. Thus, the stamp seal is dated to the early years of the Crusades, which not only saw the establishment of the Crusader States in Edessa, Antioch, Tripoli and Jerusalem, but also an Armenian state under the Rubenid dynasty in Cilicia since the 1080s. Here, at the crossroads of the East and the West, one can easily imagine the usefulness of a seal in Armenian script dated in Arabic numerals by the 'year of the lord', a dating system which was widely used in the West at the time, but not in Armenian, let alone in Islamic circles.

In fact, the Armenians used a completely different calendar, whose year 1 began on 11 July 552 AD and which was written in Armenian numerals. This would have been familiar to Armenians, but completely incomprehensible to any Westerner. From this we can conclude that the owner of the seal used it in a context where he wanted Western readers of his seal to understand the date, if not the rest of the inscription. While it may seem somewhat counterintuitive to date a seal stamp to a specific year, since it would render it useless in the following year, it actually makes perfect sense when tracking documents or goods by the year they were made, acquired, or sold.

Unfortunately, reading the Armenian inscription is made difficult by what appears to be a three-letter monogram in the first row, but the rest can be read reasonably clearly as 'Savior ... Georg(e)'. The latter likely is a personal name rather than that of St. George, and thus marks the seal as the possession of an Armenian named Kevork or Gevorg. Given the use of Arabic numerals for a date by the 'year of the lord', this Kevork must have had close contact with western soldiers, travellers and pilgrims in 1100, just three years after the First Crusade had crossed Cilicia and a year after it had conquered Jerusalem, although we don't know in what form.
Starting price:
200 CHF
Hammer price:
9000 CHF
Bid increment:
Minimum bid:
Number of bids:
Time left:
Closing time: 26-Feb-24, 12:39:30 CET
All winning bids are subject to a 20% buyer's fee.


We use cookies to enhance your online experience. By using our website, you accept our data privacy policy and the use of cookies.

Connection lost

You have lost your connection. Because we present current bids in real-time, your browser may display outdated or incorrect bidding information.

Please check your network connection and try again. We recommend refreshing the website to display the accurate bidding information again.