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Re: [ANE-2] Re: ANE Bulla Photos

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  • Robert Whiting
    G. M. Grena s photographs of his bulla with impressions of 5 stamp seals are now available at the group s web site in the Photos area
    Message 1 of 15 , Mar 31, 2006
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      G. M. Grena's photographs of his bulla with impressions of 5 stamp seals
      are now available at the group's web site in the "Photos" area
      (http://ph.groups.yahoo.com/group/ANE-2/photos) in a folder called
      "Bulla".


      Bob Whiting
      whiting@...
    • Ronald Wallenfels, Ph.D.
      Dear G.M. Grena, I ve just had a look at the photos posted and with all due caution thought I d offer the following observations: Bullae of the sort picture
      Message 2 of 15 , Apr 1, 2006
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        Dear G.M. Grena,

        I've just had a look at the photos posted and with all due caution
        thought I'd offer the following observations:

        Bullae of the sort picture here that wrapped around a rolled or folded
        parchment or papyrus document are usually refereed to as "napkin-ring"
        bullae and are unique to Babylonia during the Seleucid period (e.3rd -
        m.2nd c BCE): examples are known from Seleucia-on-the-Tigris, Uruk,
        Babylon, Borsippa and Larsa.

        The 5 pairs of impressions on your bulla appear to show (1) a male with
        torso fully frontal, bearded face profile left; (2) a goat-fish facing
        right ("rabbit"); (3) a scorpion; (4) a nondescript quadruped; (5) and a
        person profile right, one hand raised, seated on a throne with a high
        back. In each case, a raised line surrounds the central motif.

        Unfortunately, the precise form of the bulla, the fact that all of the
        impressions are paired, and the specific styles of the motifs are all
        without identifiable parallels among the several thousand Seleucid
        bullae and seal impressions known to me. A bulla of this size would be
        expected to have a distinctly oblate form and there is usually a seam
        running from one end to the other; the outer edges of the central tube
        should be quite sharp, not rounded, and the hole itself should be
        distinctly elongated, not circular. Whereas 1-3 pairs of duplicate
        impressions are not unexpected, they would, however, be expected to be
        accompanied by several more impressions that are not duplicated. Seal
        impressions with linear surrounds are certainly known, the line being
        the product of the margin of a stone or metal intaglio set into a metal
        ring bezel--in such a case one would not expect any part of the intaglio
        to cross or interfere with the surround as are seen in every impression
        here.

        As you must by now have guessed, I have serious doubts as to the
        authenticity of this object, but must temper this with the fact that my
        observations are based only on the photos available, not a first hand
        examination. As the Seleucids' neighbors to the west used to say,
        "caveat emptor."

        Sincerely yours,

        Ronald Wallenfels
        Fair Haven, NJ







        G.M. Grena wrote:

        > > I' am Julie Patrier. I am a PhD student in France
        > > (Strasbourg) and I would to known where the bulla of
        > > G. M. Grena comre from. Could you inform me?
        >
        > It has no archeological provenance; I purchased it from a mail-
        > auction antiquities dealer here in the U.S.A. back in the 1997-8
        > timeframe. I just E-mailed 12 photos to Bob Whiting for online
        > posting. Two will show the overall object from different angles; one
        > shows the cord-hole with a fingerprint & 3 impressions; another shows
        > a group of 4 impressions on the opposite side.
        >
        > The quarter-inch diameter hole goes all the way through the center, &
        > the overall diameter of the bulla is about 1 inch.
        >
        > Ten other photos will show each impression, which I've tentatively
        > identified as:
        >
        > * A man/warrior, possibly holding a weapon in his right hand & a
        > shield in his left
        >
        > * A scorpion; I rotated one of the photos 180 degrees to give a
        > different perspective--maybe it's a bird; what I'm interpreting as
        > scorpion claws may actually be 2 legs, & maybe the 6 scorpion legs
        > are flapping wings
        >
        > * A rabbit, though it could also be a donkey/mule/burro
        >
        > * A tetrapod, for lack of detail; it could be a calf or pair of
        > calves standing side-by-side
        >
        > * A "thing"; I'm clueless; here's where the vast ANE-2 list expertise
        > will surely rise & shine, & appear beautiful on the horizon of Yahoo-
        > land; fair, great, dazzling, & high above all other lists; dispel the
        > darkness & shed thy rays of opinions...
        >
        > I'd also like to know if list members would interpret these stamps as
        > having been made by 1 person who owned 5 seals, or 5 people
        > vouchsafing for the sealed item. My opinion is that they all seem
        > similar enough to have belonged to a single owner, but then again,
        > maybe this similarity indicates a common designer who marketed seals
        > to a small community.
        >
        > I'm not really concerned with its authenticity since that's nigh unto
        > impossible to prove or disprove without doing some exorbitantly
        > expensive lab test (I only paid about $100 for the object).
        >
        > Back when I acquired this bulla, the dealer suggested that these
        > icons might have represented signs of the Zodiac at some early stage
        > of development. I bought it just because it looked really cool, &
        > fit in with the rest of my collection pertaining to writing systems.
        > G.M. Grena
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
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        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • G.M. Grena
        ... First, thanks for all of your excellent insight, Ronald! I ve never heard of napkin-ring bullae, so that s very interesting. I don t know if you caught
        Message 3 of 15 , Apr 1, 2006
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          > wrapped around a rolled or folded parchment or papyrus
          > document are usually refereed to as "napkin-ring"

          First, thanks for all of your excellent insight, Ronald! I've never
          heard of napkin-ring bullae, so that's very interesting. I don't
          know if you caught the dimensions mentioned, but the hole/seam/tube
          that pierces this bulla penetrates its entire length & is only about
          a quarter-inch (6mm) diameter, which seems way too small for it to
          have been wrapped around a folded document. I'm thinking of the
          Elephantine papyri--I've never seen any folded specimens smaller than
          that.

          > (2) a goat-fish facing right ("rabbit");

          D'oh! You're right! I was perplexed by the cross-hatching within
          the animal's body, but I recognize this hybrid creature now.

          > (5) and a person profile right, one hand
          > raised, seated on a throne with a high back.

          You're right again--I see it now!

          > the outer edges of the central tube
          > should be quite sharp, not rounded,

          Ah, yes, but what if it were worn on a necklace at a later time as a
          charm? [Reference the Wikipedia entry for "Bulla (amulet)" that
          mentions Romans doing this.] That would account for the ancient-
          looking wear; but I agree, it could indicate an attempt by a forger
          to mimic wear.

          > one would not expect any part of the intaglio
          > to cross or interfere with the surround
          > Ronald Wallenfels

          I agree. I noticed that too. It looks very suspicious; much more so
          than the wear around the hole. My opinion, though, is that it would
          be a bit of work for a forgery artist to first carve 5 seals based on
          recognizable ancient glyptic art, then make the bulla, then wear it
          down to make it look authentic, yet he/she made such a glaring error
          with the surrounding borders in the 5 designs. All that trouble for
          probably less than $50 (half the dealer markup). And I would expect
          to see many similar specimens on the market, including the 5 seals,
          yet I never have. Seems strange, but you're right, it's suspicious.

          Anyway, I'm glad to have a better understanding of the icons now.
          G.M. Grena
        • G.M. Grena
          ... Once again, I agree with your point, but yesterday, I was bothered by how silly it would be for a forger to have engraved the borders on my bulla the way
          Message 4 of 15 , Apr 2, 2006
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            > the line being the product of the margin
            > of a stone or metal intaglio set into a metal
            > ring bezel--in such a case one would not
            > expect any part of the intaglio to cross or
            > interfere with the surround
            > Ronald Wallenfels

            Once again, I agree with your point, but yesterday, I was bothered by
            how silly it would be for a forger to have engraved the borders on my
            bulla the way they are ***if*** the intention were to emulate a ring
            bezel to make it look authentic.

            I have a modest library--only 4 seal reference books. I decided to
            peruse them, & although I found none that resembled the impressions
            on my bulla, I did manage to find several in each book where the main
            design extended beyond an engraved border--a border distinct from the
            typical bezel-type border.

            ***

            "7000 Years of Seals" by Dominique Collon; British Museum Press, 1997

            4/11c; Middle Minoan (~1650 BC); bar grasped by cat extends beyond
            solid oval border in bottom-left corner

            5/5; Late Archaic Greek (~450 BC); satyr's tail extends beyond dotted
            oval border in bottom-left corner

            ***

            "Ancient Near Eastern Cylinder Seals from the Marcopoli Collection"
            by Beatrice Teissier; University of California Press, 1984

            151; Neo-Assyrian (~750 BC); head of "hero" extends beyond solid
            border across top

            181; Neo-Assyrian (~800 BC); crests above bird heads extend beyond
            solid border across top

            275; Neo-Assyrian (~650 BC); wing of bird extends beyond solid border
            across top

            453; Syrian (~1700 BC); "high oval headdress" extends beyond solid
            border across top

            456; Syrian (~1800 BC); round cap of left figure extends beyond solid
            border across top

            482; Syrian (~1700 BC); sphinx wings extend beyond solid border
            across top

            ***

            "Biblical Period Personal Seals in the Shlomo Moussaieff Collection"
            by Robert Deutsch & Andre Lemaire; Archaeological Center
            Publications, 2000

            4, 7, 17, 18, 26, 27, 82; Hebrew (~700 BC); inscriptions extend
            beyond oval border

            9; Hebrew (~750 BC); griffin horns extend beyond solid oval border at
            top

            122; Aramaic (~700 BC); tops of creatures on left & right extend
            beyond solid border across top

            160; Ammonite (~700 BC); inscription extends beyond oval border

            199; Moabite (~700 BC); inscription extends beyond oval border

            ***

            "Corpus of West Semitic Stamp Seals" by Nahman Avigad & Benjamin
            Sass; Israel Exploration Society, 1997

            6, 40, 41, 56, 62, 70, 77, 93, 124, 158, 237, 278, 701, 1073; Hebrew
            (~650 BC); inscriptions extend beyond oval border

            163; Hebrew (~700 BC); bird tails & inscription extend beyond oval
            border

            736; Phoenician (~500 BC); deity's head/crown extends beyond oval
            border

            1107; Aramaic/Ammonite; falcon tails extend beyond oval border

            ***

            Granted, most (if not all) of these are unprovenanced, & could all be
            fake, but it's interesting that a random sample of published material
            appearing here in my home library by several authors with respected
            expertise don't dismiss a particular seal's authenticity just because
            the main design extends beyond an engraved border. And this was just
            a cursory search. Surely ANE scholars who are more familiar with
            provenanced specimens from scientific excavations know of similar
            examples.

            To reiterate, none of these come close to resembling the seals of my
            10-stamped bulla; my point is simply that borders were sometimes
            violated or engraved to accommodate the main design. The borders on
            the seals of my bulla obviously do not represent a bezel border, but
            maybe they were part of the ancient design. I'm not ready to throw
            it in the trash just yet.
            G.M. Grena
          • Ronald Wallenfels, Ph.D.
            Dear G.M. Grena: Please note that the linear and dotted borders seen near the upper/lower edges of stone cylinder seals or surrounding the intaglios on
            Message 5 of 15 , Apr 4, 2006
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              Dear G.M. Grena:

              Please note that the linear and dotted borders seen near the upper/lower
              edges of stone cylinder seals or surrounding the intaglios on engraved
              stone stamp seals are purely decorative and certainly may be breached by
              a design element. The linear surround on Seleucid seals does not appear
              in any case known to me to be decorative but rather is functional, the
              result of the fixing of a metal or stone intaglio into a metal finger
              ring bezel. Further, both cylinder and stone stamp seals, with the
              exception of a handful of heirlooms, are completely extinct in the
              Seleucid period, replaced largely by metal finger rings of purely
              western origin. Lastly, when seeking comparanda for an artifact without
              provenence it is imperative that you restrict yourself to the most
              relevent material available with secure or at least certain
              archaeological contexts, not unprovenenced material of (ostensibly)
              entirely different chronological and cultural miilieux. Nonetheless,
              given your obvious continued interest in the possible origins of your
              artifact, I am providing you with following relevant bibliography for
              your consideration.

              For the seal impressions on bullae excavated from
              Seleucia-on-the-Tigris, see A. Invernizzi, ed. Seleucia al Tigri: Le
              impronte di sigillo dagli Archivi I-III (Alessandria: Edizioni
              del'Orso, 2004).

              For the seal impressions on bullae and tablets excavated from Seleucid
              Uruk, see G. Lindstrom, Uruk: Siegelabdrücke auf hellenistischen
              Tonbullen und Tontafeln. AUWE 20 (Mainz am Rhein: Verlag Philipp von
              Zabern, 2003). Lindström's drawing (p. 8, Abb. 1) does not accurately
              portray how a Seleucid "napkin-ring" bulla was formed; rather see my,
              "Sealing Practices on Legal Documents from Hellenistic Babylonia," in
              Administrative Documents in the Aegean and their Near Eastern
              Counterparts: Proceedings of the International Colloquium, Naples,
              February 29-March 2, M. Perna, ed.(Turin, 2000), p. 336).

              For the seal impressions on bullae excavated from Seleucid Babylon, see
              F. Wetzel, E. Schmidt, A. Mallwitz, Das Babylon der Spätzeit. Ausgraben
              der Deutschen Orient Desellschaft in Babylon 8. WVDOG 62 (Berlin, 1957).

              For the seal impressions on bullae excavated from Nippur, see L.
              Legrain, The Culture of the Babylonians from their Seals in the
              Collection of the Museum. PBS 14. (Philadelphia., 1925); and McG.
              Gibson, "Parthian Seal Style: A Contribution from Nippur," Mesopotamia
              29 (1994): 89-105.

              For the seal impressions on bullae excavated from Larsa, see O. Lecomte,
              "Un probleme d'interprétation: l'E.babbar de Larsa aux époques
              hellénistique et séleuco-parthe, approches archéologique, économique et
              cultuelle," in J.-L. Huot, ed., Larsa (10e campagne, 1983) et Oueili (4e
              campagne, 1983). Rapport préliminaire. Editions Recherche sur les
              Civilisations, «Mémoire» 73 (Paris, 1987), pp. 225-44 .

              For a comprehensive study of the iconography of Seleucid Uruk seal
              impressions, see my Uruk: Hellenistic Seal Impressions in the Yale
              Babylonian Collection I. Cuneiform Tablets. AUWE 19 (Mainz am Rhein:
              Verlag Philipp von Zabern, 1994). (These tablets, although the products
              of uncontrolled excavations, are certainly from Uruk.) For a
              comprehensive study of Hellenistic seal types in general see J.
              Boardman, Greek Gems and Finger Rings. Early Bronze Age to Late
              Classical (London, 1970)..

              Note that although several napkin-ring bullae were found in early
              Parthian levels at a few Babylonian sites, they are undoubtedly of
              Seleucid origin, most likely retained by their owners, etc., through the
              transition to Parthian rule--Parthian seals and bullae (never in the
              form of napkin-rings) are distinctly different (see the Parthia-L
              website for additional bibliography).

              Please feel free, after having reviewed the suggested material above, to
              pose any further questions or comments.

              Sincerely yours,

              Ronald Wallenfels
              Fair Haven

              P.S. Please note the following list protocol:

              Public postings to ANE-2 must include the full name of the contributor
              and some indication of social location and/or academic affiliation at
              the end of each post. Pseudonyms and "handles" are not an acceptable
              substitute on ANE-2. Names and addresses as they appear in headers are
              not sufficient identification.


              G.M. Grena wrote:

              > > the line being the product of the margin
              > > of a stone or metal intaglio set into a metal
              > > ring bezel--in such a case one would not
              > > expect any part of the intaglio to cross or
              > > interfere with the surround
              > > Ronald Wallenfels
              >
              > Once again, I agree with your point, but yesterday, I was bothered by
              > how silly it would be for a forger to have engraved the borders on my
              > bulla the way they are ***if*** the intention were to emulate a ring
              > bezel to make it look authentic.
              >
              > I have a modest library--only 4 seal reference books. I decided to
              > peruse them, & although I found none that resembled the impressions
              > on my bulla, I did manage to find several in each book where the main
              > design extended beyond an engraved border--a border distinct from the
              > typical bezel-type border.
              >
              > ***
              >
              > "7000 Years of Seals" by Dominique Collon; British Museum Press, 1997
              >
              > 4/11c; Middle Minoan (~1650 BC); bar grasped by cat extends beyond
              > solid oval border in bottom-left corner
              >
              > 5/5; Late Archaic Greek (~450 BC); satyr's tail extends beyond dotted
              > oval border in bottom-left corner
              >
              > ***
              >
              > "Ancient Near Eastern Cylinder Seals from the Marcopoli Collection"
              > by Beatrice Teissier; University of California Press, 1984
              >
              > 151; Neo-Assyrian (~750 BC); head of "hero" extends beyond solid
              > border across top
              >
              > 181; Neo-Assyrian (~800 BC); crests above bird heads extend beyond
              > solid border across top
              >
              > 275; Neo-Assyrian (~650 BC); wing of bird extends beyond solid border
              > across top
              >
              > 453; Syrian (~1700 BC); "high oval headdress" extends beyond solid
              > border across top
              >
              > 456; Syrian (~1800 BC); round cap of left figure extends beyond solid
              > border across top
              >
              > 482; Syrian (~1700 BC); sphinx wings extend beyond solid border
              > across top
              >
              > ***
              >
              > "Biblical Period Personal Seals in the Shlomo Moussaieff Collection"
              > by Robert Deutsch & Andre Lemaire; Archaeological Center
              > Publications, 2000
              >
              > 4, 7, 17, 18, 26, 27, 82; Hebrew (~700 BC); inscriptions extend
              > beyond oval border
              >
              > 9; Hebrew (~750 BC); griffin horns extend beyond solid oval border at
              > top
              >
              > 122; Aramaic (~700 BC); tops of creatures on left & right extend
              > beyond solid border across top
              >
              > 160; Ammonite (~700 BC); inscription extends beyond oval border
              >
              > 199; Moabite (~700 BC); inscription extends beyond oval border
              >
              > ***
              >
              > "Corpus of West Semitic Stamp Seals" by Nahman Avigad & Benjamin
              > Sass; Israel Exploration Society, 1997
              >
              > 6, 40, 41, 56, 62, 70, 77, 93, 124, 158, 237, 278, 701, 1073; Hebrew
              > (~650 BC); inscriptions extend beyond oval border
              >
              > 163; Hebrew (~700 BC); bird tails & inscription extend beyond oval
              > border
              >
              > 736; Phoenician (~500 BC); deity's head/crown extends beyond oval
              > border
              >
              > 1107; Aramaic/Ammonite; falcon tails extend beyond oval border
              >
              > ***
              >
              > Granted, most (if not all) of these are unprovenanced, & could all be
              > fake, but it's interesting that a random sample of published material
              > appearing here in my home library by several authors with respected
              > expertise don't dismiss a particular seal's authenticity just because
              > the main design extends beyond an engraved border. And this was just
              > a cursory search. Surely ANE scholars who are more familiar with
              > provenanced specimens from scientific excavations know of similar
              > examples.
              >
              > To reiterate, none of these come close to resembling the seals of my
              > 10-stamped bulla; my point is simply that borders were sometimes
              > violated or engraved to accommodate the main design. The borders on
              > the seals of my bulla obviously do not represent a bezel border, but
              > maybe they were part of the ancient design. I'm not ready to throw
              > it in the trash just yet.
              > G.M. Grena
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
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              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • G.M. Grena
              ... Thank you for the bibliography! I will eventually check them all out; however, the point I made by citing examples from diverse ANE cultures & periods was
              Message 6 of 15 , Apr 4, 2006
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                > The linear surround on Seleucid seals does not appear
                > in any case known to me to be decorative but rather is
                > functional, the result of the fixing of a metal or
                > stone intaglio into a metal finger ring bezel.
                > Ronald Wallenfels

                Thank you for the bibliography! I will eventually check them all
                out; however, the point I made by citing examples from diverse ANE
                cultures & periods was from the frame of reference that my bulla is
                not necessarily Seleucid (especially since you stated in your initial
                response that my bulla's motifs are "without identifiable parallels
                among the several thousand Seleucid bullae and seal impressions
                known" to you).

                I would be surprised if there really were no other Mesopotamian
                bullae of this form aside from this rather late culture/period. Is
                this form/motif combination really a Seleucid innovation?

                George Michael Grena, II
                Redondo Beach, CA

                P.S. I was not aware of the name/location protocol & apologize for
                my earlier posts lacking my full info.
              • Ronald Wallenfels, Ph.D.
                ... YES! ... [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                Message 7 of 15 , Apr 4, 2006
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                  G.M. Grena wrote:

                  > > The linear surround on Seleucid seals does not appear
                  > > in any case known to me to be decorative but rather is
                  > > functional, the result of the fixing of a metal or
                  > > stone intaglio into a metal finger ring bezel.
                  > > Ronald Wallenfels
                  >
                  > Thank you for the bibliography! I will eventually check them all
                  > out; however, the point I made by citing examples from diverse ANE
                  > cultures & periods was from the frame of reference that my bulla is
                  > not necessarily Seleucid (especially since you stated in your initial
                  > response that my bulla's motifs are "without identifiable parallels
                  > among the several thousand Seleucid bullae and seal impressions
                  > known" to you).
                  >
                  > I would be surprised if there really were no other Mesopotamian
                  > bullae of this form aside from this rather late culture/period. Is
                  > this form/motif combination really a Seleucid innovation?


                  YES!

                  >
                  > George Michael Grena, II
                  > Redondo Beach, CA
                  >
                  > P.S. I was not aware of the name/location protocol & apologize for
                  > my earlier posts lacking my full info.
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > SPONSORED LINKS
                  > Near
                  > <http://groups.yahoo.com/gads?t=ms&k=Near&w1=Near&w2=Columbia+university&w3=University+of+helsinki&c=3&s=63&.sig=vjH4Q5VmXAUJaSsd8wG25A>
                  > Columbia university
                  > <http://groups.yahoo.com/gads?t=ms&k=Columbia+university&w1=Near&w2=Columbia+university&w3=University+of+helsinki&c=3&s=63&.sig=PU4KLJtAMCH6dPtY-isWgw>
                  > University of helsinki
                  > <http://groups.yahoo.com/gads?t=ms&k=University+of+helsinki&w1=Near&w2=Columbia+university&w3=University+of+helsinki&c=3&s=63&.sig=NjlqwUeyEjrYAB1fzxK2tQ>
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                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • G.M. Grena
                  ... There s a bulla in Colon s 7000 Years book on p. 43 in a chapter by T.G.H. James: 2/3__A fragment of a clay sealing impressed with the seal of Pharaoh
                  Message 8 of 15 , Apr 4, 2006
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                    > > Is this form/motif combination really a Seleucid innovation?
                    > > George Michael Grena, II
                    >
                    > YES!
                    > Ronald Wallenfels

                    There's a bulla in Colon's "7000 Years" book on p. 43 in a chapter by
                    T.G.H. James:

                    "2/3__A fragment of a clay sealing impressed with the seal of Pharaoh
                    Aha (1st Dynasty, c. 3070 BC) & 2 signs reading ht, from Tomb B.18 at
                    Abydos (7.0 x 8.5 cm)..."

                    Based on what I learned here from you & this one's size & shape &
                    impressions, I'd say it's an early Egyptian napkin-ring bulla (its
                    opening is about 3x the size on my bulla--plenty of room for a folded
                    document). Granted that the motif & provenance differ, are you quite
                    certain that no other ANE culture made napkin-ring bullae between
                    3000 BC & 300 BC?

                    George Michael Grena, II
                    Redondo Beach, CA
                  • Ronald Wallenfels, Ph.D.
                    Dear George, May I humbly suggest that in future you take the time to read and understand the accompanying text (pp. 37f.) and not just look at a single
                    Message 9 of 15 , Apr 5, 2006
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                      Dear George,

                      May I humbly suggest that in future you take the time to read and
                      understand the accompanying text (pp. 37f.) and not just look at a
                      single (misleading) photo and its neccessarily brief caption. Are you
                      seriously suggesting that I am somehow confusing a fragmentary late 4th
                      millennium Egyptian jar sealing impressed by Egyptian cylinder seals
                      with a crude attempt to imitate a late 1st millennium Babylonian
                      parchment sealing impressed with stamp seals?! Do you yourself not see
                      that you are struggling vainly to compare apples with oranges? Yes, they
                      are both fruit, but so what! Your random perusal of a limited number of
                      volumes at hand without a deeper understanding of what you are looking
                      at precisely mirrors how most forgers operate and that is precisely why
                      those of us who have devoted literally decades of our lives to the
                      examination and mastery of such seemingly arcane material can aver with
                      conciderable confidence that a given artifact is not an ancient object.

                      I believe this horse has long been flogged to death--let it lie in peace.

                      Sincerely,

                      Ronald Wallenfels
                      Fair Haven, NJ

                      G.M. Grena wrote:

                      > > > Is this form/motif combination really a Seleucid innovation?
                      > > > George Michael Grena, II
                      > >
                      > > YES!
                      > > Ronald Wallenfels
                      >
                      > There's a bulla in Colon's "7000 Years" book on p. 43 in a chapter by
                      > T.G.H. James:
                      >
                      > "2/3__A fragment of a clay sealing impressed with the seal of Pharaoh
                      > Aha (1st Dynasty, c. 3070 BC) & 2 signs reading ht, from Tomb B.18 at
                      > Abydos (7.0 x 8.5 cm)..."
                      >
                      > Based on what I learned here from you & this one's size & shape &
                      > impressions, I'd say it's an early Egyptian napkin-ring bulla (its
                      > opening is about 3x the size on my bulla--plenty of room for a folded
                      > document). Granted that the motif & provenance differ, are you quite
                      > certain that no other ANE culture made napkin-ring bullae between
                      > 3000 BC & 300 BC?
                      >
                      > George Michael Grena, II
                      > Redondo Beach, CA
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      > ------------------------------------------------------------------------
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                      > on the web.
                      >
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                      >


                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    • G.M. Grena
                      ... No, sir. I stand corrected on their illusory similarities. I just find it hard to believe that people applied seals to clay (sealing jar lids) in the 4th
                      Message 10 of 15 , Apr 7, 2006
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                        > Are you seriously suggesting that I am somehow confusing
                        > a fragmentary late 4th millennium Egyptian jar sealing
                        > impressed by Egyptian cylinder seals with a crude attempt
                        > to imitate a late 1st millennium Babylonian parchment
                        > sealing impressed with stamp seals?!
                        > Ronald Wallenfels

                        No, sir. I stand corrected on their illusory similarities. I just
                        find it hard to believe that people applied seals to clay (sealing
                        jar lids) in the 4th millennium B.C., & that it wasn't until the
                        first millennium B.C. that they decided to wrap it around documents
                        for a similar identification purpose. I'm hoping to learn more about
                        how this bulla process evolved over thousands of years into an
                        intelligently-designed Seleucid napkin-ring bulla; I find it hard to
                        believe that the Seleucids just all-of-a-sudden created the concept;
                        it seems unscientific, & I would expect more transitional forms.

                        I'm wondering what are the intermediate/acceptable criteria for an
                        authority to say, "Well, it's not like all the others, but it's
                        similar enough to be authentic." It's either a "well-known copy"
                        (like ushabtis, scarabs, & cuneiform tablets that are as common in
                        antiquities shops as pieces of the True Cross in European churches),
                        or an "artifact with no parallels"--both categories must obviously
                        indicate forgery, or so I'm told.

                        By the way, my bulla could certainly be fake, but not possibly
                        a "crude attempt to imitate" the forms you're familiar with, or it
                        would've been much larger without a worn hole & with a similar number
                        of impressions as you described. Bear in mind that in my original
                        post "I was hoping to see if anyone else [knew] of a similar specimen
                        stamped like [it]." I was not seeking authentication, but I'm
                        grateful for your references to the Seleucid era.

                        Quote of the day from Michael D. Coogan in the latest issue of BAR:

                        "Just because an argument comes from authority doesn't mean it's the
                        only view. Beware of an argument based on 'authority.'"

                        George Michael Grena, II
                        Redondo Beach, CA
                      • Rudolf H. Mayr
                        ... The Seleucid period napkin-ring bulla has plenty of tradition behind it, and there are plenty of transitional forms. The napkin-ring bulla was wrapped
                        Message 11 of 15 , Apr 8, 2006
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                          George Grena wrote, in part:
                          > ... I just
                          > find it hard to believe that people applied seals to clay (sealing
                          > jar lids) in the 4th millennium B.C., & that it wasn't until the
                          > first millennium B.C. that they decided to wrap it around documents
                          > for a similar identification purpose. I'm hoping to learn more about
                          > how this bulla process evolved over thousands of years into an
                          > intelligently-designed Seleucid napkin-ring bulla; I find it hard to
                          > believe that the Seleucids just all-of-a-sudden created the concept;
                          > it seems unscientific, & I would expect more transitional forms.

                          The Seleucid period napkin-ring bulla has plenty of tradition behind
                          it, and there are plenty of transitional forms. The napkin-ring bulla
                          was wrapped around a parchment (or papyrus or whatever) and therefore
                          would not have developed until there was a need to seal documents
                          written in ink on such materials, and in Mesopotamia this did not arise
                          until pretty late in the first millennium. Before that time the only
                          kind of writing commonly used in Mesopotamia was cuneiform, which is
                          written on clay tablets. Being clay, the tablet itself can be sealed,
                          and indeed they were. Clay tablets, written with cuneiform, were
                          sealed sporadically throughout the 3rd millennium, and very frequently
                          beginning in the Ur III period. Furthermore, clay tablets (sometimes
                          sealed ones) were sometimes wrapped in an additional layer of clay
                          (called a case or envelope) which could be sealed. Sealed cuneiform
                          tablets were still common in the Seleucid Period; you might look at Dr.
                          Wallenfels' publications. The late development was to replace the
                          cuneiform tablet with a parchment (or papyrus, or whatever) document;
                          the innovation of the napkin ring bulla was dictated by the need to
                          combine the time-tested tradition of sealing with a new writing
                          technology.

                          Rudolf H. Mayr, D. Litt.
                          Lawrenceville, N.J.
                        • Robert Whiting
                          On Sat, 8 Apr 2006 04:25:25, G.M. Grena wrote: ... But then on Sat, Apr 8 2006 17:15:59, G.M. Grena wrote: ...
                          Message 12 of 15 , Apr 9, 2006
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                            On Sat, 8 Apr 2006 04:25:25, G.M. Grena wrote:

                            <snip>
                            > Quote of the day from Michael D. Coogan in the latest issue of BAR:
                            >
                            > "Just because an argument comes from authority doesn't mean it's the
                            > only view. Beware of an argument based on 'authority.'"

                            But then on Sat, Apr 8 2006 17:15:59, G.M. Grena wrote:

                            <snip of argument based on 'authority'>

                            > I did not see any of these references in the October 1999 ANE archive
                            > when this same subject was discussed, & felt it would be a relevant
                            > insertion today (with all due respect to other list members who have
                            > superior authority in Hebrew & Greek; I believe historical records
                            > should count for something, considering that we don't have any of
                            > Paul's original manuscripts).

                            The point being, I suppose, that arguments based on 'authority' should
                            only be trusted to the extent that they tell you what you want to hear.


                            Bob Whiting
                            whiting@...
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