Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Seal of a Woman

Seal of a Woman
In the times of Jeremiah and Habakkuk, around the early 6th century bce, a woman was buried in the Iron Age Tombs at Mamillah, Jerusalem, near the Jaffa Gate. Her name was yhwhḥn, "YaHWe(H) has shown grace." Most interestingly, she left an impression of her seal in the tomb, and you can see her name in the top line of this artistic recreation, right after an initial "l" in the upper right, meaning "belonging to..." The bottom line reads, "daughter of pqʿt."

At the Abnormal Interests blog, Duane has a full description of this seal which is well worth a look (click here).

Commenting on this "seal of a woman," Duane notes how interesting it is that a simple (non-privileged) woman in this society had some importance as a crafts-person or trades-person, who needed to seal documents or objects associated with her business. If we assume she could read her own seal, she was also literate!


Blogger Duane Smith said...


Thanks for the link and, even more, the great renditions and comments. My suspicion is that, perhaps with the exception of very high government official (kings, etc) anyone who had a seal could read more than their name. They may have not been fully literate but applying there seal to a document (via a bulla or directly) indicated that the document was theirs and reflected their thoughts even if it was formally written by someone else.

Thu Jan 25, 10:13:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Duane Smith said...

One other small thing: I think it was the actual seal and not the impression that was found in the tomb passage.

Thu Jan 25, 10:23:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger S and C said...

Hi Duane, Thanks so much for drawing our attention to this amazing seal and for your astute observations! I've corrected the post above in accord with your note. Thanks! ---S.

Thu Jan 25, 10:32:00 AM GMT-5  

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