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Home>Catalog>Antiquities>AntiquitiesbyType>Seals PAGE 1/212

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.


Eastern India, Buddhist Terracotta Votive Sealing, c. 8th Century
Click for a larger photo At holy sites and temples Buddhist pilgrims would purchase small votive offerings, to present to the shrine to be interred inside a stupa, or to take home as a memento. Votive offerings varied from place to place and over time. They were often made of terracotta and included small plaques, stupas, and sealings. The various sealings texts include meaningless pseudo-writing, repeated mantras, passages from the Ramayana, the Buddhist creed, prayers, etc. Because few early Buddhist manuscripts have survived in India, the writings found on these humble sealings provide a rare glimpse of the various scripts used in India in ancient and early medieval times. -- http://papyri.tripod.com/buddhist/introsealings.html
AB54492. cf. Zwalf 1985, p. 33 and nos. 144 - 146; edge chip and chipped area of text, maximum diameter 31 mm, obverse Sanskrit text: the Buddhist Creed; reverse undecorated; mica sparkling in the clay, ex Alex G. Malloy; $40.00 (30.00)

Persian(?), Sasanian(?), Islamic (?), Uncertain Date
Click for a larger photo 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.
BZ49891. Lead bulla (tag seal), Lead bulla seal, the bust appears to be too exotic to be Roman or Byzantine, weight 6.832 g, maximum diameter 15.5 mm, obverse bust right, helmeted(?) or crowned(?); reverse bust(?); $33.00 (24.75)

Byzantine Empire, Lead Bulla Seal, c. 5th - 12th Century
Click for a larger photo During the Byzantine period, lead bullae (singular, Bulla) were widely used to seal and identify the sender of correspondence and containers in shipment. An iron, pliers-shaped instrument, a boulloterion, was used to impress the designs on a lead bulla seal. After the cord was wrapped around the package or document and the ends inserted in a channel in the blank seal, the seal was placed between the disk shaped engraved dies on the jaws of a boulloterion. The boulloterion had a projection above the jaws, which was struck with a hammer to impress the design on the seal and close the channel around the two ends of the cord. With a bulla in place a container cannot be violated without visible damage to either the bulla or the cord, ensuring the contents remain tamper-proof until they reach their destination.
BB53464. Lead bulla (tag seal), unused blank(?), weight 6.121 g, maximum diameter 26.9 mm, ex Alex G. Malloy; $21.00 (15.75)

Byzantine Empire, Lead Bulla Seal, c. 8th - 9th Century
Click for a larger photo 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.
BB53487. Lead bulla (tag seal), cf. Zacos 1979 - 1983, weight 11.245 g, maximum diameter 26.4 mm, obverse ΘEOTOKE BOHΘEI in cruciform monogram (invocation of the Virgin "God-bearer"), in the angles, TW - CW/ ∆OV- ΛW in quarters; reverse Greek inscription; ex Alex G. Malloy; $21.00 (15.75)

Byzantine Empire, Lead Bulla Seal, c. 5th - 12th Century
Click for a larger photo During the Byzantine period, lead bullae (singular, Bulla) were widely used to seal and identify the sender of correspondence and containers in shipment. An iron, pliers-shaped instrument, a boulloterion, was used to impress the designs on a lead bulla seal. After the cord was wrapped around the package or document and the ends inserted in a channel in the blank seal, the seal was placed between the disk shaped engraved dies on the jaws of a boulloterion. The boulloterion had a projection above the jaws, which was struck with a hammer to impress the design on the seal and close the channel around the two ends of the cord. With a bulla in place a container cannot be violated without visible damage to either the bulla or the cord, ensuring the contents remain tamper-proof until they reach their destination.
BZ49880. Lead bulla (tag seal), weight 20.010 g, maximum diameter 23.3 mm, obverse facing bust, crowned?; reverse cruciform monogram, large pellet in lower left quarter; very thick, bronze patina, ex Alex G. Malloy; $16.00 (12.00)

Byzantine Empire, Lead Bulla Seal, c. 11th Century
Click for a larger photo 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.
BB53372. Lead bulla (tag seal), weight 9.766 g, maximum diameter 25.5 mm, obverse Greek inscription; reverse Greek inscription; ex Alex G. Malloy; $12.00 (9.00)



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Catalog current as of Monday, September 01, 2014.
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Ancient Seals