Biblical Archaeology Review 13:5, September/October 1987

Name of Deuteronomy’s Author Found on Seal Ring

By Josette Elayi

It was at a party sponsored by the University of Paris in June 1984. We were chatting about nothing in particular when a friend of my husband’s mentioned that he had recently seen some Phoenician antiquities at the home of a Paris collector, more specifically a beautiful ring containing a seal that appeared to have a Semitic inscription on it. I was surprised and at first doubtful; I knew that seals with West Semitic inscriptions are usually found alone, not with the ring in which they were mounted in antiquity. Nevertheless, curiosity got the better of me, and I decided to get in touch with the collector. By this time, my husband’s friend had left Paris, without having introduced me to the collector. It took me quite some time to arrange an appointment with him, but finally the day arrived. As I drove to his flat, I wondered if it would be worth the effort. Probably a forgery or something late, I thought.

The collector lived in a luxurious flat that was like a small antiquities museum.

When he finally brought out the ring, I was stunned. The ring indeed encased a seal with a Semitic inscription on it. The collector was unaware of how exceptional this seal was. By the form of the letters on the seal, it could be dated to the seventh century B.C.

Seals from this period are not unusual; but still encased in the original silver ring, they are surely unusual. Moreover, the decorated ring was in extraordinary condition—after nearly 2,600 years.

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