CHKHAIDZE V.N. Ecclesiastical Connections of Medieval Мatarcha: New Finds of Byzantine Lead Seals


Viktor N. Chkhaidze

Candidate of Sciences (History), Head of the Centre for Byzantine-Caucasian Studies,

Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences,

Rozhdestvenka St, 12, 107031 Moscow, Russian Federation

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Abstract. Introduction. Matarcha was the cathedral city of the Diocese of Zichia of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. It was a major religious and missionary center in the Northwestern Pre-Caucasus. The priests of this autocephalous archdiocese took an active part in the church life of the Byzantine Empire. In this context, among the most important sources on the history of the Byzantine Matarcha, a special place is occupied by the monuments of Byzantine sphragistics.

Methods. The paper examines three Byzantine church seals of the 11th–12th centuries, discovered during the research of the Taman settlement (medieval Matarcha was the center of the diocese of Zichia of the Patriarchate of Constantinople). The owners of the seals were: deacon Michael, monk Ignatius and nun Euphemia.

Analysis. The article provides information about the previously known 19 seals belonging to the church hierarchs of Zichia and other representatives of the clergy. Similar finds of seals in the Crimean urban centers (Cherson and Sughdea) are indicated.

Results. The few details that relate to the ecclesiastical history of the diocese of Zichia emphasize the exceptional value of each new find of seals, and the evidence of direct contacts and established correspondence between the Orthodox clergy once again shows that, in addition to the cleric – deacon, the monastic brotherhood also played a significant role in the development of relations between the church and society. To a certain extent, this could also be facilitated by the trips of the city’s residents to pilgrimage sites, as evidenced by the brought relics, the finds of which are known.

Key words: history of Byzantium, sphragistics, Byzantine seals, Patriarchate of Constantinople, inter-church relations.

Citation. Chkhaidze V.N. Ecclesiastical Connections of Medieval Мatarcha: New Finds of Byzantine Lead Seals. Vestnik Volgogradskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta. Seriya 4. Istoriya. Regionovedenie. Mezhdunarodnye otnosheniya [Science journal of Volgograd State University. History. Area Studies. International Relations], 2021, vol. 26, no. 6, pp. 112-118. (in Russian). DOI:

Лицензия Creative Commons

Ecclesiastical Connections of Medieval Мatarcha: New Finds of Byzantine Lead Seals by Chkhaidze V.N. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Download this file (3_Chkhaidze.pdf) 3_Chkhaidze.pdf