Syro-Palestinian stamp seals from the Persian Period (538-332 B.C.): an analysis of their iconographic motifs and inscriptions

Klingbeil, Martin Gerhard (1992-12)

Thesis (MA (Ancient Studies)--University of Stellenbosch, 1992.


In the course of this M.A. thesis, 65 stamp seals (conoids, scaraboids, signet rings and scarabs) have been collected, described, and analyzed. They stem from legal archaeological excavations in Syro-Palestine, and have been found in strata and contexts which can clearly be ascribed to the Persian period. Methodological questions were addressed, including the following: historical outline of the Persian period, geographical limitations of the study, archaeological considerations, and the iconographic and epigraphic aspects of the study. For the description process, a computerized system was developed, by means of which the seals could be described on three levels: general description, element description, modification description. In this way, a uniform way of handling the data was achieved. The description procedure is reflected in the fonn of a catalogue. In order to facilitate the analysis, the seal corpus was organized in three, at times overlapping, classes: iconographic seals, epigraphic seals, and hieroglyphic seals. The different classes were then analyzed according to their peculiarities, e.g. geographical distribution, iconographic motif groups, palaeography, onomastica, etc. It was shown that the corpus of stamp seals from the Persian period consists of a wide variety of objects in tenns of form and content, and could by no means be characterized as being homogenous. A certain relationship between geographical origin, fonn, and content of the seal could be established.

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