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An Egyptian Clay Seal Impression, Reign of Seti I, ca 1294-1279 B.C.

ET815

both sides busily decorated with images and hieroglyphs that seem to have cryptographic significance. At the top, the gods Ra and Amun sit holding was-scepters, an obelisk topped by a sun-disk to their left and cobra, canal, and eye hieroglyphs to their right. Taken together, these signs represent a playful writing of the prenomen of Seti I, “Men-maat-re,” and the epithets, “beloved of Amun, who performs Maat.” In the middle register, two baboons sniffing lotus blossoms face a central sun-disk; baboons were considered to be devotees of the sun god because they were observed getting agitated at sunrise and sunset. At the bottom, a stylized vulture spreads its wings protectively over the entire scene. 

In Egypt, clay was shaped and impressed with seals to secure the contents of jars, bags, boxes, letters, and official documents, and to safeguard storage rooms by sealing the doors.

They were handy and easily carried on the person. Official seals were so important that at least as early as the Old Kingdom officials instructed students in the art of being "sealers." Official departments had their secular sealers such as "Sealer of the Honey," while religious organizations had their "Divine Sealer." In the Middle Kingdom, the royal treasury had its Chancellor and "Keeper of the Royal Seal."

Condition: Intact and in very good condition overall with minor cracks to edges.

Dimensions: 3.4cm (1.5in).

Provenance: Private Swiss collection acquired late 1960's.


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