ALEKSEENKO N.А. Byzantine Taurica in the Second Half of the 11th Century and New Seal of Leon Aliates from Cherson


Nikolay A. Alekseenko

Head of Branch “Fortress Chembalo”,

State Historical and Archaeological Museum-Preserve “Tauric Chersonesus”,

Drevnyaya St., 1, 299045 Sevastopol, Russian Federation

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Abstract. The discovery of a valuable and important sphragistic source in Cherson – the seal of Strategos and Patrikios Leon Aliates, known by the inscription of 1059, brings us back to the old problems of the development of the administrative system of the Crimean region. Basing the research on the other data as well, today we can confidently state that the presence of the imperial administration in Taurica in the second half of the 11th century does not only decrease, but even expands and reinforces. This is associated, firstly, with Sougdea joining Cherson, and, secondly, with the creation of Cherson katepanate and making Sougdea an independent theme.

The seal of vetarch Nicephorus Alan, catepan of Cherson and Khazaria, proves the existence of a new military administrative district in Taurica in the second half of the 11th – at the turn of the 11th / 12th centuries. This fact makes it necessary not only to look in a new way at the history of the region during the collapse of the feudal system, but also in a certain sense to reestimate the role and significance of Cherson in Byzantine politics and diplomacy of that time.

The appearance of the katepanate in Taurica, which included not only the traditional regions around Cherson, but also the vast Khazar lands of the Steppe and Northeast Crimea in the sphere of its jurisdiction, was caused by the need to increase the military force of borderlands in the face of an ever-increasing threat from the nomads of the north. For the same reason, Sougdea becomes an independent theme, designed to control the East-Crimean region, the Azov Sea and the Caucasian coast of Ponta. It is possible that a similar situation could apply to Bosporus.

The finds of the seals of Russian princes and governors of Tmutarakan in the very area of Bosporus and Sougdea serve as indirect evidence in favor of this fact.

Key words: history of Byzantine Empire, provincial administration, Byzantine Cherson, sphragistics, Byzantine seals, molybdoboulloi.

Citation. Alekseenko N.А. Byzantine Taurica in the Second Half of the 11th Century and New Seal of Leon Aliates from Cherson. Vestnik Volgogradskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta. Seriya 4, Istoriya. Regionovedenie. Mezhdunarodnye otnosheniya [Science Journal of Volgograd State University. History. Area Studies. International Relations], 2017, vol. 22, no. 5, pp. 100-111 (in Russian). DOI:

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Byzantine Taurica in the Second Half of the 11th Century and New Seal of Leon Aliates from Cherson by Alekseenko N.А. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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