Friday, September 07, 2018

More on the Maresha Bullae

ICONOGRAPHIC DISCOVERY: 1,020 untouched clay sealings discovered after two millennia in hidden cave. A find of international significance in central Israel, the Hellenistic-era trove puts the ancient cosmopolitan city of Maresha ‘back on the map’ (Amanda Borschel-Dan, Times of Israel).
An enormous trove of 2,000-year-old clay seal impressions was chanced upon in August during exploration of a newly discovered seven-room cave complex at the ancient city of Maresha, part of the Bet Guvrin-Maresha National Park in central Israel.

While attempting to photograph the new subterranean complex, archaeologist Dr. Ian Stern and his photographer son, Asaf Stern, discovered an exciting cache of clay impressions (bullae) littered among millennia-old smashed large jars on a small cave’s floor.

This article has a few new details on the find, including a preliminary answer to my query yesterday whether any had writing on them:
The Israel Antiquities Authority’s head of the Coin Department, Dr. Donald Ariel, conducted a preliminary survey of 300 of the fragile, as yet unwashed clay sealings.

An international expert in the field, Ariel determined that they primarily date from the 2nd century BCE and depicted images of gods, including Athena, Aphrodite, and Apollo, as well as erotic themes, masks, standing figures, and cornucopia. There were a few with Greek letters and numbers indicating dates, but as yet none of the sealings were seen to bear other written inscriptions.
Background here.

UPDATE: Joseph Lauer has directed me to the HUC-JIR press release that is the main source for both articles.

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