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Plate with Cross and Greek Inscription "Honor of God"

Early Byzantine
ca. 610
13.7 cm (5 3/8 in.)
silver and niello

On view


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The inscription Honor of God, (Theou Time) accompanies a cross with ring-like serifs in the center of this small, silver plate. A wreath surrounds these elements and all are executed in niello, a silver and sulphur compound that, after being heated and polished, produces a shiny black surface that contrasts with the bright, reflective surface of the silver. The plate was cast with a molding around the center and a raised, rounded rim. A mate to this plate (Dumbarton Oaks BZ.1951.23) differs only in its inscription.

Five stamps are impressed into the underside of the plate, within the shallow ring foot.. This system of five control stamps was introduced under the Emperor Anastasios I (491-518) and lasted until the reign of Constans II (641-668). This plate has an example of each of the five standardized stamps: round, hexagonal, square, round-topped oblong, and cross-shaped. Some stamps carried bust images with inscriptions and others the monogram of the emperor, the minister of public finances (the comes sacrarum largitionum), and other officials. By deciphering the monograms and the inscriptions, scholars can often date stamped silver objects with some precision. At times, however, because some imperial reigns were long and because the identification of some officials and monograms is uncertain, only a range of dates can be suggested for certain items. This plate can be dated to the first part of the reign of Herakleios (610-41).

- S. Zwirn

The Dumbarton Oaks Collection, Harvard University (Washington, D.C., 1955), 56, no. 133.

R. J. Gettens and C. L. Waring, "The Composition of Some Ancient Persian and Other near Eastern Silver Objects," Ars Orientalis 2 (1957): 83-90, esp. 89, no. 23.

E. C. Dodd, Byzantine Silver Stamps, Dumbarton Oaks Studies 7 (Washington, D.C., 1961), 154, no. 46.

M. C. Ross, Catalogue of the Byzantine and Early Mediaeval Antiquities in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection, vol. 1 Metalwork, Ceramics, Glass, Glyptics, Painting (Washington, D.C., 1962), 21, 22, no. 16.1, pl. 19A.1, B1.

Handbook of the Byzantine Collection (Washington, D.C., 1967), 22, no. 75, pl. 75.

Exhibition History
Washington, DC, Freer Gallery of Art & the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, “Ancient and Medieval Metalwork from Dumbarton Oaks,” Dec. 16, 2005 – Apr. 1, 2007.

Acquisition History
Purchased from Charles L. Morley, by Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, D.C., November 1951;

Underwritten as gift of Mrs. Gilbert L. Steward in memory of her father, Robb de Peyster Tytus, April, 1960;

Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Byzantine Collection, Washington, D.C.