Illustrations of Hebrew Seals and Bullae Identifying Biblical Persons

My recent M.A. thesis contained my digital illustrations of ancient seals identifying biblical persons. Since images of a few of these artifacts can be difficult to access, and some of my illustrations bring out elements and engraving reconstructions elsewhere unpublished, this blog post seeks to make a number of them more available to researchers.

Publication of many of these images will be forthcoming in a volume by Sheffield Phoenix. However, at present if you wish to use them, you can simply cite my online thesis:

Benjamin Stanhope, “First Temple Hebrew Seals and Bullae Identifying Biblical Persons: A Study of their Iconographic and Historical Significance” M.A. Thesis, Hamburg University, 2019.

The figure notations in this post correspond to the thesis.

Examples of ancient seal impressing methods

Fig 1.
Upper register: Example of a Kassite cylinder seal rolled out on clay. Lower register: A perforated stamp seal set in the axle of a ring, and a clay bulla bearing a stamped impression (note, bulla impression here is different from ring engraving).

Examples of ancient Jewish sealed papyri
Fig 2.
Upper: Wadi Daliyeh cave Papyrus no. 1. Recording the sale of a slave named named Yehohanan to a man named Hananiah in the reign of Darius on March 18, 335 BCE.

Lower: Brooklyn Museum Elephantine grain loan papyrus dating to December 13, 402 BCE. The Aramaic endorsement on the outside of the document package reads, “Document (sealing) of a house which Anani son of Azariah and Tapemet his wife sold.”

Seal: Shemaʿ, minister of Jeroboam

Fig 3. 
An (originally) jasper seal from Megiddo belonging “to Shemaʿ, minister of Jeroboam” (variously: “Shema servant of Jeroboam”, לשמע עבד ירבעם, lšmʿ ʿbd yrbʿm).

The left produces the title page photograph of Schumacher’s original German report and clearly shows the lightly engraved palm frond(?) and ankh missing on the surviving bronze cast, and most publications of the object. The left is an illustration of the surviving cast of the object in the Israel Museum. 

Seal: “Belonging to Shebanyau minister of Uzziah”

Fig 5. 
Seal: “belonging to Shebanyau” (side A), “belonging to Shebanyau minister of Uzziyau” (side B). (Variously, Shebanyau, servant of Uzziah”, לשבניו עבד עזיו, lšbnyw ʿbd ʿzyw). 

Blood-red limestone, currently held in the Lourve (A.O. 6216). Gray lines represent speculative reconstructions based on my comparison of this seal with another from the same ancient workshop in the Moussaieff collection. See images: “Sceau inscrit en hébreu: ‘appartenant àShebnayahou, serviteur d'Ozias’, roi de Juda,” Musée du Louvre.

Seal: “Belonging to Abiyau minister of Uzziah”

Fig 5.
Seal: “belonging to Abiyau minister of Uzziyau” (variously, “Abiyah servant of Uzziah”,  לאביו עבד עזיו, lʾbyw ʿbd ʿzyw).

Agate plaque with fiery bands ranging from yellow to brilliant orange. See the high resolution image of the original seal: “Sceau, ‘Nefertoum et inscriptions’ (Chandon.156)”, Médailles et Antiques de la Bibliothèque nationale de France.

Seal: “belonging to Ashna, minister of Ahaz”

Fig 6.
Seal: “belonging to Ashna, minister of Ahaz” (variously: “Ashna, minister of Ahaz”, or “Ushna, servant of Ahaz”, לאשנא עבד אחז, lʾšnʾ ʿbd ʾḥz). 

Orange carnelian, Yale Babylonian Collection (Avigad and Sass, WSS, no. 5). See § 3.3.3 of thesis for notes on interpretation and hemhem crown.

Bulla: “Belonging to Ahaz, son of Jotham, king of Judah”

Fig 6.
Bulla of reddish clay, “Belonging to Ahaz, son of Jotham, king of Judah”. Shlomo Moussaieff collection. Published in Robert Deutsch, “First Impressions: What We Learn from King Ahaz’s Seal,” BAR 24.3 (July 1998), 54.

Seal: “belonging to ʿAbdi minister of Hosea”

Fig 8.Seal: “Belonging to ʿAbdi, minister of Hosea” (the last king of the Israelite North). (Variously: “Abdi, minister of Hosea,” Abdi, servant of Hosea, לעבדי עבד חושע, lʿbdy ʿbd ḥwšʿ).

Scaraboid with a flat face of orange-brown carnelian (or possibly chalcedony). First seal of Robert Deutsch and André Lemaire, Biblical Period Personal Seals in the Shlomo Moussaieff Collection (Archaeological Center Publications: Tel Aviv, 2000).

Bullae: bearing the name of Hezekiah, king of Judah

Fig 10.
Clay bullae of Ahaz bearing winged sun, scarab, and aniconic inscription. See § 3.3.5 of thesis.

Bulla: “belonging to Gemariah, son of Shaphan”

Fig 11.
Bulla: belonging “to Gemariah son of Shaphan” (court scribes mentioned in 2 Kgs 22; 2 Chr 34; Jer 26:24, etc). (Variously: “Gemaryahu son of Shaphan”, לגמריהו בן שפן, lgmryhw bn špn).

Member of House of Bullae hoard discovered in 1982 in the Jerusalem “Area G” on the eastern foothills of the City of David.

Seal ring and bulla of Hilkiah, the high priest and his son Azariah

Fig 12.
Left: dark agate seal ring with electric blue streak, “belonging to Hanan, son of Hilkiah the Priest” (לחנן בן חלקיהו הכהן, lḥnn bn ḥlqyhw hkhn). Right: bulla from the Jerusalem House of Bulla hoard, “belonging to Azariah, son of Hilkiah” (לעזריהו בן חלקיהו, lʿzryhw bn ḥlqyhw).

These men are mentioned in 2 Kgs 22:4-14; 1 Chr 5:39-40; 9:11; Ezr 7:1. See § 3.3.7 of thesis.

Fig 16. Full chronological plot of seals and bullae reliably identifying biblical persons. See reference key in section 3.4.


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