Himan, a Griffin and an Egyptian ankh
bullae (clay lumps used to secure containers or papyri, in our case the
former) impressed with the same seal were found in Area H in a context
sealed within the debris of a burnt house. The stratum dates to the last
major, well-understood phase of the eighth-century Israelite city. Benjamin
Sass, a Megiddo Excavation team member who works with such items, has been
busy over the last months analyzing, among the many other small finds from
Megiddo, these bullae and their place in the larger picture emerging from
Eighth-century BCE bulla from the renewed
|The best-preserved of these bullae is
illustrated here. The impression shows a griffin wearing the Egyptian double
crown and kilt and striding towards an ankh sign (or an ankh-shaped stand).
A two-winged beetle is depicted below in the exergue. These Egyptianizing
royal and solar motifs, common in the art of the period, are often labeled
Phoenician, but similar elements in the art of Israel and Aram Damascus
permit one to extend the distribution of such Egyptianizing art to much
of the southern Levant.
Mindless delight in decor is not in the spirit of
the period; whether the Israelite users of the seal with which the bullae
were impressed were aware of the original (i.e., Egyptian) religious-protective
meaning of the motifs, gave them local significance or simply regarded
them as generally beneficial remains unknown.
|Between the two world wars the Chicago expedition
to Megiddo unearthed a very similar stamp seal (right), but with a much
rarer motif, a locust, in the exergue. A legend in ancient Hebrew letters
was added to the originally uninscribed seal. It reads lhmn, ‘belonging
to Himan’, a not-so-common personal name. Discovered out of context, the
seal was dated to the eighth century by numerous parallels; the archaeological
context of the bullae from the renewed excavation clinches this date.
with Jared L. Miller
Eighth-century BCE seal inscribed in Hebrew
found by the Chicago expedition [Israel Antiquities Authority 34.1490].