Discovering an Ancient Seal
A tiny seal measuring 2 centimeters is making a huge impact in the antiquities world. The seal was unearthed in an archeological dig on the Temple Mount in Israel and is from the late first Temple period over 2700 years ago. Seals of this type were mounted on rings and were used to sign documents during that period. According to archeologist Eli Shukrun, "The name Matanyahu, like the name Netanyahu, means 'gift to God.' These names are mentioned several times in Scripture. They are typical of names in the Judean Kingdom at the end of the First Temple period – from the late 8th century BCE until the Temple's destruction in 586 BCE."
Engraved gems were predominantly made of semi-precious stones. In the Western tradition they were usually made with images on one side. However, many Middle Eastern seals display their own traditions. In fact, in the Bible, seals with words are mentioned bearing the names of the Tribes of Israel instead of images.