Biblical Archaeology Review 28:4, July/August 2002

Lasting Impressions

New bullae reveal Egyptian-style emblems on Judah’s royal seals

By Robert Deutsch

I remember it vividly. It was September, 1991. I was a new, although not exactly a young, scholar, still working toward my master’s degree at Tel Aviv University. Professor Benjamin Mazar, the doyen of Israeli archaeology and former president of Hebrew University, invited me to a salon he regularly held in his apartment. In attendance was the most illustrious scholar of ancient epigraphy at Hebrew University, Professor Nahman Avigad, as was the distinguished epigraphic au-thority and my friend and mentor, Professor Michael Heltzer of Haifa University. Naturally, the discussion focused on a set of new inscriptions that were coming to light, the most exciting of which were included in a hoard of bullae (singular, bulla)—flattened lumps of hardened clay bearing seal impressions—that Professor Avigad had published in his 1986 book, Hebrew Bullae from the Time of Jeremiah: Remnants of a Burnt Archive.a Toward the end of the afternoon, I recall Professor Avigad, who was already an old man, wistfully expressing the hope that before he died he would see a seal or seal impression of a Judahite king.

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