Wednesday, September 21, 2016

What are Bullae?

Clay (terracotta) seals called "bullae" were used to secure official documents from the Stone Age through the Roman Period. Here are some examples dating from the 1st century B.C. through the 2 century A.D.

Clay seals were used to secure documents by the personal authority of an official or a king. These seals were created by the impression of a signet on a lump of clay. A rolled papyrus or parchment document was tied with a cord and the cord was sealed with the piece of clay bearing the impression.

Sometimes the clay seals have the imprint of the maker's fingers and fibers from the papyrus cords that were wrapped around the documents.

In 2014 a 10-year-old Russian boy found a 3000 year seal while sifting through dirt at Jerusalem's Temple Mount. The limestone seal bears the image of an animal, likely the totem of the family to which it belonged.

The seal dates to the early Iron Age, the time of the Jebusite occupation of Jerusalem (Jebus/Yehu) and King David's reign (10th century B.C.). The Temple Mount and the royal compound were constructed during David's later years and during the reign of his son, Solomon.

Related reading: 3000 Year Temple Seal; Yahu Seals; Purity Seal from Herod's Temple; What We Learn From King Ahaz's Seal

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