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Seals and Bullae

(1,052 words)

Author(s): Misgav, Haggai
A seal is an object, usually made of stone, which has been designed and fashioned by a craftsman with carved shapes and/or letters. The mark of the seal, called a bulla, is its impression on a piece of tin, generally used to seal documents. Seals and bullae are known to have been in use throughout the ancient Near East from the 3rd millennium B.C.E., both in Egypt and in Mesopotamia. The main use of the seals was to authorize legal documents. Their presence represented the testimony and agreement of the seal’s owner to the contents of a written document. The number of bullae that have been pr…

Paleography of Hebrew Inscriptions

(2,775 words)

Author(s): Misgav, Haggai
1. The First Stage: The Birth of Alphabetic Writing Alphabetic writing developed in the Middle East in the second half of the 2nd millennium B.C.E., where its earliest attestation is in the inscriptions of Serabit el-Khadem (Cross 1954). It has been a generally accepted practice to refer to all of the alphabets used during this period by one name, even though there were evidently a number of languages of uncertain identity which were being written at that time. The accepted term for this kind of inscription is Proto-Canaanite script. Recently, there are those who have begun referri…