Byzantine Seals. Seal (Lead, 30 mm, 19.75 g, 12 h), circa 10th-11th century. MHP - ΘY Nimbate bust of the Virgin orans. Rev. لضرب / الاندلس ('li-darb al-andalus' in Kufic) in two lines within circle of pearls. DOC -. Stavrakos -. Extremely rare and of great interest. Minor traces of overstriking and with some minor marks and scrapes, otherwise, good very fine.
What makes this bilingual seal so interesting is the fact that the Arabic legend is not the name of a merchant or a magistrate, as is usually the case, but rather it declares that the sealed goods are to be shipped to Al-Andalus, the name of Islamic Iberia! The owner of the goods was probably a merchant involved in the sea trade from the eastern Mediterranean to Spain, though whether he was a Muslim or a Christian we cannot say. In any case, this seal is a first-hand account of the 'international' trade relations of the era and a wonderful testimony to the multiculturalism that has been so prevalent among merchants at all times.