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Metal Antiquities

This page excludes jewelry, fibulae, arrowheads, seals, weights, and sling bullets, which have their own pages.

Roman Syria-Palestina, Jewish, Lead Bulla Seal, 7 Branched Menorah, c. 5th - 6th Century A.D.

|Seals|, |Roman| |Syria-Palestina,| |Jewish,| |Lead| |Bulla| |Seal,| |7| |Branched| |Menorah,| |c.| |5th| |-| |6th| |Century| |A.D.||bulla| |(tag| |seal)|
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, revealing the tampering. Bullae depicting a menorah are known but very rare and not well documented. Dattari-Savio p. 327, 3 is a 1901 rubbing of a very similar menorah sealing. Michael Still lists two menorah sealings in his thesis on Roman seals, 1696 with a Latin inscription reverse, 1765 with a Hebrew inscription reverse. The recently published catalogue of the Vossen collection by Gert Boersema and Bill Dalzell, has two Menorah seals, numbers 181 and 182, both with blank reverses. There are also a few examples known from auctions. A FORVM member posted a bulla of this exact type from his collection on the Classical Numismatic Discussion on the Forum Ancient Coins website. We received three examples of this type on consignment, all with the same fire damage, suggesting they were found together.
JD98655. Lead bulla (tag seal), VF, chip on reverse, light earthen deposits, raised bumps from exposure to an ancient fire that heated and expanded air bubbles within the lead, weight 4.679 g, maximum diameter 15.9 mm, c. 5th - 6th century A.D.; obverse seven branched menorah with tripod base; reverse lulav, uncertain Syriac inscription; very rare; $600.00 SALE PRICE $540.00


Roman Syria-Palestina, Jewish, Lead Bulla Seal, 7 Branched Menorah, c. 5th - 6th Century A.D.

|Seals|, |Roman| |Syria-Palestina,| |Jewish,| |Lead| |Bulla| |Seal,| |7| |Branched| |Menorah,| |c.| |5th| |-| |6th| |Century| |A.D.||bulla| |(tag| |seal)|
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, revealing the tampering. Bullae depicting a menorah are known but very rare and not well documented. Dattari-Savio p. 327, 3 is a 1901 rubbing of a very similar menorah sealing. Michael Still lists two menorah sealings in his thesis on Roman seals, 1696 with a Latin inscription reverse, 1765 with a Hebrew inscription reverse. The recently published catalogue of the Vossen collection by Gert Boersema and Bill Dalzell, has two Menorah seals, numbers 181 and 182, both with blank reverses. There are also a few examples known from auctions. A FORVM member posted a bulla of this exact type from his collection on the Classical Numismatic Discussion on the Forum Ancient Coins website. We received three examples of this type on consignment, all with the same fire damage, suggesting they were found together.
JD98656. Lead bulla (tag seal), VF/Fair, light earthen deposits, raised bumps from exposure to an ancient fire that heated and expanded air bubbles within the lead, c. 5th - 6th century A.D.; obverse seven branched menorah with tripod base; reverse lulav, uncertain Syriac inscription (obscure); very rare; $300.00 SALE PRICE $270.00


Roman, Bronze Repousse Plaque with Centaur Holding a Bow, Lorica Sqaumata Armor Plate(?), c. 1st - 3rd Century B.C.

|Roman| |Antiquities|, |Roman,| |Bronze| |Repousse| |Plaque| |with| |Centaur| |Holding| |a| |Bow,| |Lorica| |Sqaumata| |Armor| |Plate(?),| |c.| |1st| |-| |3rd| |Century| |B.C.|
Likely used in some legionary application; perhaps as a lorica squamata legionary armor plate segment.
AA59779. Roman, bronze repousse, 1.75 x 1.75 inches, c. 1st - 3rd century A.D.; sheet bronze hammered from behind in repousse technique to raise the figure of a centaur holding a bow, remains of two rivet holes where it was attached, tear on body, rare and interesting; from a New Jersey collection; $260.00 SALE PRICE $234.00


Mediterranean Region, 1/8 Libra Lead Shell Weight, c. 4th Century B.C. - 2nd Century A.D.

|Weights| |&| |Scales|, |Mediterranean| |Region,| |1/8| |Libra| |Lead| |Shell| |Weight,| |c.| |4th| |Century| |B.C.| |-| |2nd| |Century| |A.D.||weight|
Hendin lists several such shell-shaped weights. They are found throughout the Mediterranean Region.
AS99980. Lead weight, Hendin Weights 276, Manns-Kloetzli p. 22, 37; Alvarez-Burgos P29; 1/8 Libra lead weight molded from bipod shell, weight 47.803 g, maximum diameter 31.2 mm, 4th century B.C. - 2nd century A.D.; $250.00 SALE PRICE $225.00


Byzantine Empire, Lead Amulet or Votive Mirror, c. 5th - 11th Century A.D.

|Byzantine| |Antiquities|, |Byzantine| |Empire,| |Lead| |Amulet| |or| |Votive| |Mirror,| |c.| |5th| |-| |11th| |Century| |A.D.|
In Greek and Hebrew the biblical term Charis (xapiς) refers to good will, loving-kindness, favor, in particular to God's merciful grace. It is used over 140 times in the New Testament and is a central concept in the theology developed by St. Augustine of Hippo. Epigraphically, the inscription resembles so-called 'magical' or 'gnostic' engraved gems and amulets, also bearing retrograde inscriptions and square lunate sigmas. Although this may have been a "mirror" it would never have been useful or used as one. Its purpose was likely to seek favor from God, ideally to seek the God's grace to strengthen the owner's faith and their exercise of Christian virtues. They may have been purchased to be left behind in a church, similar to how prayer candles are offered in Catholic churches today.
BZ99058. Lead amulet or votive mirror, weight 10.250 g, maximum diameter 31.0 mm, die axis 0o, c. 5th - 11th Century A.D.; obverse H XA/PIC EI/MI (Greek: I am grace) in three retrograde lines; reverse blank (if a mirror, it would have originally been polished to provide a reflection); $150.00 SALE PRICE $135.00


Roman, Conical Lead Bulla Seal, c. Late 3rd Century A.D., ANAK...

|Seals|, |Roman,| |Conical| |Lead| |Bulla| |Seal,| |c.| |Late| |3rd| |Century| |A.D.,| |ANAK...||bulla| |(tag| |seal)|
 
AR83616. Lead bulla (tag seal), cf. Boersema-Dalzell 157 (very similar size and style with inscription ΠA−NΦV), gVF, weight 3.13 g, maximum diameter 13.1 mm, die axis 0o, obverse bare-headed, draped male bust right, ANAK... upward behind; reverse conical with rounded top, pierced for cord; $120.00 SALE PRICE $108.00


Roman, Lead Conical Bulla Seal, c. 3rd - 4th Century A.D., Attis in Phrygian Cap

|Seals|, |Roman,| |Lead| |Conical| |Bulla| |Seal,| |c.| |3rd| |-| |4th| |Century| |A.D.,| |Attis| |in| |Phrygian| |Cap||bulla| |(tag| |seal)|
During the late Roman and Byzantine periods, 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.
AR83608. Lead bulla (tag seal), Boersema-Dalzell 189, Leukel (1995) N67, gVF, weight 4.45 g, maximum diameter 14.8 mm, die axis 0o, c. 3rd - 4th century A.D.; obverse draped bust of Attis(?) right, wearing Phrygian cap, pedum behind shoulder; reverse flattened conical back, pierced for cord; $90.00 SALE PRICE $81.00


Roman, Conical Lead Seal, Late 4th - Early 5th Century A.D.

|Seals|, |Roman,| |Conical| |Lead| |Seal,| |Late| |4th| |-| |Early| |5th| |Century| |A.D.||bulla| |(tag| |seal)|
Most likely an imperial seal with a senior Augustus between two junior Augusti, perhaps Theodosius I with Arcadius and Honorius (393 - 395). The similar but smaller Boersema-Dalzell 142 (4.6g) attributed to Arcadius, Honorius and Theodosius II (402 - 408) has DDD NNN above the busts, abbreviating Dominorum Nostrorum (meaning, in this instance, our three lords).
AR83656. Lead bulla (tag seal), cf. Boersema-Dalzell 142 (4.6g), Leukel (1995) 118 - 121, aVF, weight 9.238 g, maximum diameter 19.0 mm, late 4th - early 5th century A.D.; obverse laureate and draped bust of emperor facing between two smaller laureate and draped busts turned facing center and seen in profile (Theodosius I with Arcadius and Honorius?), possibly DDD NNN above; reverse domed cylindrical back with hole and channel for cord; $70.00 SALE PRICE $63.00


Roman, Large Iron Borer or File, 1st - 3rd Century A.D.

|Roman| |Antiquities|, |Roman,| |Large| |Iron| |Borer| |or| |File,| |1st| |-| |3rd| |Century| |A.D.|
Another piece from the same group as this borer was dated by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory to 120 A.D. with a probable range of 80 A.D. - 160 A.D. Testing was done using an innovative technique which measures the carbon isotope ratio of the trace carbon in the iron. This carbon comes from the wood used in the production of the iron which must be of essentially the same age as the tool itself. Results were published in the journal, Radiocarbon, Summer 2001.
AE61804. Roman borer, cf. Petrie, 'Tools and Weapons', pl. LXV, 40; 7 inches, indent at one end for attaching handle, $60.00 SALE PRICE $54.00







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REFERENCES

Babelon, E. & J. Blanchet. Catalogue des bronzes antiques de la Bibliotheque National. (Paris, 1895).
Baratte, F, et al. Vases antiques de metal au Musee de Chalon-sur-Sao^ne. (Dijon, 1984).
den Boesterd, M. Description of the Collections in the Rijksmuseum G.M. Kam at Nijmegen V, The Bronze Vessels. (1956).
Koster, A. Description of the Collections in the Rijksmuseum G.M. Kam at Nijmegen XIII, The Bronze Vessels 2. (Gelderland, 1997).
Hayes, J. Greek, Roman, and Related Metalware in the Royal Ontario Museum. (Toronto, 1984).
Milovanivic, B. & N. Mrdjic. "Ring-Keys from Viminacium" in Journal of the Serbian Archaeological Society, Vol. 32. (Belgrade, 2016).
Negbi, O. Canaanite Gods in Metal: An Archaeological Study of Ancient Syro-Palestinian Figures During the Bronze Ages, circa 3100 to 1200 BCE. (Tel Aviv, 1976).
Petrovszky, R. Studien zu rmischen Bronze Gefassen mit Meister Stempeln. (Buch am Erlbach, 1993).
Radnti, A. Die Rmischen Bronzegefsse von Pannonien. (Leipzig, 1938).
Raev, B. "De Bronzegefsse der rmischen Kaiserzeit in Thrakien und Mosien" in Bericht der Rmisch-Germanischen Kommission, 58 (1977), pp. 607 - 642.
Rolland, H. Bronzes Antiques de Haute Provence. (Paris, 1965).
Tassinari, S. Il vasellame bronzeo di Pompei. (Rome, 1993).

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