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The collection of Medieval Seals from the National Archaeological Museum Sofia 
Автор: Иван Йорданов/ Ivan Yordanov
Раздел: Нумизматика, сфрагистика, ордени, съкровища
Издателство: Национален археологически институт и музей - БАН
Народност: българска
ISBN: 9789549572073
първо издание, 2011 год.
меки корици, 132 стр.
Цена: 15,00 лв  
The medieval seals collection of the National Archaeological Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences is the oldest in the country. It includes nearly two hundred seals accumulated over the museum's long history. The first seal entered the museum as early as the first year of its separate existence in 1892, the second one in 1893 and the third in 1894. Towards the year 1934 the collection amounted to nearly 159 specimens, of which 84 were acquired from Istanbul, while the remaining 67 were discovered in Bulgaria. In the past seventy years or so their number has not increased much. Other collections were formed in the country during that time. The total number of Byzantine seals found in modern Bulgaria has already surpassed 3,300 specimens.
The collection shared the fate of the other monuments of the Archaeological Museum; it suffered bombing, as a result of which the original inventory book was destroyed. The current one is a reconstruction made by Todor Gerasimov. Some specimens published by Nikola Mushmov in 1934 were probably lost again as a result of the same air raid. They have also been included in the present catalogue noted as missing and most probably destroyed during the bombing.
The publication of the seals in the collection went almost parallel with their discovery. The first publications were of European quality and significance. The author of the first publication was Gustave Schlumberger, the founder of Byzantine Sigillography. He must have contacted Vatslav Dobrouski, the director of the Archaeological Museum, since in 1900, on the pages of Revue des etudes qrecques, Schlumberger published several specimens from the Archaeological Museum collection (see nos. 52, 99 ) on the basis of their transcriptions sent him by Dobrouski. As it seems, the transcriptions were accurate, since Schlumberger's definitions are still valid from present point of view. The fact that the first Bulgarian publication of a Bulgarian ruler's seal in 1901 was in the authoritative periodical Revue numismatique, with Dobrouski himself as its author (Dobrouski, Deux molybdobulles, 258-261), is probably also due to the cooperation between Schlumberger and the museum's director.
The next publication is again the result of international cooperation. It concerns the seals and coins discovered during the first archaeological expedition to Aboba-Pliska. (see nos. 36, 101, 109 and 147). The author of this publication is the prominent Russian Byzantinist and sigillographer B. A. Panchenko. On the whole, the conclusion drawn is that the first publications of seals from the collection of Archaeological Museum were produced by scholars of international significance.
Further on, the enrichment and publication of the colled ion is connected with the person of Nikola Mushmov. First of all, we should mention the boulloterion purchased in 1926-1927, discovered on the land of the village of Alvanlarah (Yablanovo), Omurtag region. This is a really unique find, for which the museum paid 10,000 levs, a fairly large amount for that time. In the same year 1927, Mushmov published it for the first time in Proceedings of Archaeological Museum. Father Vitalien Laurent, Schlumberger's successor, who began preparing a bibliographical survey of the publications in Byzantine sigillography, proposed an emendation of Mushmov's reading still in 1931. Corrections in the dating and information on the owner of the seal, Bryennios Vataztes, are offered in several of my publications.
In 1934, N. Mushmov published the first comprehensive survey of the Byzantine seals in the NAM Collection. Given the level of the development of Byzantine sigillography at that time as well as Mushmov's knowledge of the matter, his publication was no mean achievement. In the same year 1934, T. Gerasimov was appointed as Mushmov's successor, who until his retirement in 1972 maintained the inventory book and worked for the enrichment of the collection with new finds coming mainly from the old-Bulgarian centers Pliska and Preslav.
After the establishment of the Affiliate of NAIM in Shumen and especially after the great discovery of 1980, the seals from these sites were preserved in the local museums and the collection of NAM in Sofia was frozen. Some casual purchases were made from time to time, but they remained unread.
The collection undoubtedly deserves the present overall publication for the following reasons: first, it provides a precise documentation of empirical material and its introduction into scholarly circulation, second, it gives a supplementary picture to the history of the Bulgarian lands for the period to which the seals are dated, and last but not least, it presents one of the museum's foremost collections - the collection of seals intrinsically constituting authentic written sources.
How the data of the seals in the National Archaeological Museum collection have been organized?
Organization of the seal data.
Each description begins with the inventory number of the seal; in cases when it is not indicated, it means that the seal is missing. Some of the seals had been published by N. Mushmov and assumingly destroyed during the bombing, but it is also possible to be found in some other museums' collections. This is followed by information on the provenance of the seal. Such information is lacking for most of the seals; presumably some came with the purchase from Istanbul, while there is simply no information about others. Next is the metrical data. This is the first time I have had the chance of working with the originals, taking their measurements with calipers and weighing them with electronic scales. The dimensions given in my previous publications should be considered invalid.
According to their nature and origin, the seals in the collection of the Archaeological Museum fall into two main groups: Bulgarian unci foreign, which practically means Byzantine or related to Byzantium.
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