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Collection Highlights

Seal bearing a cross

Seal bearing a cross
© BA Antiquities Museum/M. Mounir

Registration Number(s)
BAAM Serial Bibliotheca Alexandrina Antiquities Museum Number 0886

Inv.Inventory
 (Coptic Museum) 1045

where to find


showcase 23

Seal bearing a cross

Category:
Seals / Stamps
Date:
Byzantine Period, 5th to 6th century CE
Provenance:
Unknown
Material(s):
Organic material, wood
Diameter:
8.4 cm
Hall:
Byzantine Antiquities, showcase 23


Description

Round seal, used to protect the contents of a container. It is engraved with a cross in the center whose four beams end in triple branches. Between the four beams is a repeated ornament that consists of a leaning cross inside a square. The cross is surrounded by an ornamental engraving of triangles.

Seals

Seals, in metal or wood, were intended for making soft clay or wax closing. The use of such seals, which dates from pagan antiquity, together with the impressions they left, allow us to distinguish several types of seals, among the examples in wood from the Coptic period.

Stamp seals in the form of a medallion served to mark the stoppers of jars for wine. They also marked loaves of bread, a custom that still very much exists in the Coptic Church. At Antinoopolis, the marks of seals have been found on potter's clay fixed to braids that held a mummy's shroud in place. Some stamp seals with a medallion were provided with a handle. They carry engraved or hollowed out a monograms, christograms, other inscriptions or figures of birds and animals. Some cylindrical seals present medallions at both ends, often each bearing different motifs.


The information given here is subject to modification/update as a result of ongoing research.

Bibliography
  • "Coptic Woodwork". In The Coptic Encyclopedia. Edited by Atiya, Aziz S. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1991.
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