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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Antiquities ▸ Antiquities by Type ▸ SealsView Options:  |  |  | 

Ancient Seals

Antiquities authenticated and attributed by Alex G. Malloy. Both the objects used to make impressions and the impressions themselves are referred to as seals. Seal impressions served as a signature of the owner of the seal. Seals used to make impressions include cylinder seals and stamp seals. Often these seals are holed for stringing and many were probably never used to make impressions, but were rather worn as amulets. The most common form of seal impression is the bulla. A bulla (plural, bullae), is a lump of clay or lead molded around a cord and stamped with a seal that identifies the sender. With a bulla in place a container cannot be violated without visible damage to either the bulla or the cord, thereby ensuring the contents remain tamper-proof until they reach their destination.


Byzantine Lead Bulla Seal, Sergios Mesopotamites, Late 11th - Early 12th Century

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The first part of the inscription reads "Graphas sphragizo kai logous" - "I seal the writings and words of..." The last lines read the well-known family name "Mesopotamites," with eta for iota. The personal name is most likely Sergios, with the C missing from either logous or Sergios.

The Mesopotamitai were a prominent Byzantine family in the late 12th and early 13th century. They originated either from Mesopotamos (in modern Albania) or some place called Mesopotamia. Sergios was likely related to Constantine Mesopotamite, the de facto chief minister under emperors Isaac II Angelos and Alexius III Angelos (1193 - summer 1197) and the archbishop of Thessalonica (c. 1197 - 1227, but in exile 1204 - 1224, when the city was occupied by Latin Crusaders).
AS63897. Lead bulla (tag seal), unpublished in references examined by Forum; DOCBS -, Zacos BLS -, Zacos -, Jordanov -, gVF, high relief, attractive patina, weight 4.861 g, maximum diameter 16.0 mm, die axis 0o, obverse nimbate facing bust of the Virgin Orans, MP - OV across fields; reverse ΓPA(phas) / CΦPAΓI(zo) / S ΛOΓOU(c) CE[P]/ΓIOTOU M[E]/COΠOTA/MHTOU (S abbreviates KAI and the OU's are ligate); $210.00 (Ä186.90)


Theodosius I, 19 January 379 - 17 January 395 A.D.,

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Theodosius I, son of the famed general Count Theodosius, was made Augustus by Gratian after the disastrous battle of Hadrianople. He repulsed a Gothic invasion and destroyed the forces of Magnus Maximus and Eugenius. He reigned 36 years.
AS65213. Lead bulla (tag seal), Conical, uniface, with three draped facing busts; commonly attributed to Theodosius I and his sons Arcadius and Honorius, VF, weight 9.335 g, maximum diameter 19.4 mm, $60.00 (Ä53.40)


Proto-Elamite (South-Western Iran), Cylinder Seal, 3000 - 2500 B.C.

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The Elamites called their country Haltamti, but it is Elam in the Hebrew Bible, where they are called the offspring of Elam, eldest son of Shem (Genesis 10:22, Ezra 4:9). To the east of Mesopotamia, Elam was part of the early urbanization during the Chalcolithic period (Copper Age). Written records from around 3000 B.C. parallel Mesopotamian history. In the Old Elamite period (Middle Bronze Age), Elam consisted of kingdoms on the Iranian plateau, centered in Anshan, and from the mid-2nd millennium BC, it was centered in Susa in the Khuzestan lowlands. Its culture played a crucial role in the short lived Gutian Empire of the 22nd century B.C. During the Persian Achaemenid dynasty that succeeded Elam, the Elamite language remained among those in official use.
AS48860. Cylinder seal; cf. Amiet 1028 - 1029, Choice, carved black steatite, drill and linear design with two animals and tree, 23 mm long, ex Alex G. Malloy Sale, 5/99, #1329; SOLD







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Catalog current as of Friday, April 28, 2017.
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Ancient Seals