Book Series Studies in Classical Archaeology, vol. 10

Hellenistic Sealings & Archives

Proceedings of The Edfu Connection, an international conference

Branko Fredde van Oppen de Ruiter, Ronald Wallenfels (eds)

  • Pages: xxxvi + 260 p.
  • Size:216 x 280 mm
  • Illustrations:367 b/w, 8 col., 9 tables b/w., 8 maps b/w
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2021

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-59127-8
  • Paperback
  • Available

This volume brings together the proceedings of an international conference on Hellenistic seal impressions and archival practices, dealing with issues of iconography, portraiture and ideology, the continuation, transformation and mutual influence of cultural traditions, the dissemination of ideas and beliefs, as well as social, administrative and bureaucratic procedures.


Branko F. van Oppen is the Richard E. Perry Curator of Greek and Roman Art at the Tampa Museum of Art, Tampa, Florida. He was formerly a visiting research scholar and curator at the Allard Pierson Museum, comprising the archaeological collection of the University of Amsterdam. Specializing in Ptolemaic iconography and ideology, van Oppen is a recipient of a three-month scholarship at the Getty Research Institute to study the Ptolemaic seal impressions from Apollinopolis Magna (mod. Edfu).

Ronald Wallenfels is an Adjunct Associate Professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University and is a former Associate Curator of Ancient Near Eastern Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. He is the author and editor of numerous monographs, catalogues, articles and reviews focusing principally on Babylonia during the Hellenistic period as viewed from the vantage points of both philology and art-history.


Ancient seal impressions that were once employed to seal a variety of objects, in particular different kinds of documents, can offer a wealth of information not only about iconography, but also about the dissemination of ideas and beliefs. Their usage provides evidence about the continuation, transformation, and mutual influences that impacted upon local traditions, as well as shed light on administrative and bureaucratic practices.

Drawing together in-depth contributions by specialists in the field, this timely volume — the first of its kind in twenty-five years — offers new insights into seals and their importance during the relatively understudied Hellenistic period (c. 325–25 BCE), as well as contextualizing this subject through a focus on related fields such as glyptics and numismatics. The twelve chapters included here explore the importance of hoards, among them those from Delos, Doliche, Edfu, Kedesh, Pistiros, Seleucia-on-the-Tigris, Selinunte, and Uruk, and examine themes that range from the persistence of pharaonic imagery on Ptolemaic sealings and Greek influence on Sicilian seals, to the survival of Mesopotamian traditions on Parthian clay tablets and the use of Hellenistic iconography on Bactrian finger rings. Through this multifaceted approach, this volume is able to elucidate the daily realities of social, public, and private archival practices that went beyond the political and elite levels of life, and to illuminate aspects of Hellenistic history that have long remained obscure or inaccessible.


List of Illustrations

List of Abbreviations

List of Contributors

Organiser’s Acknowledgements

Colour plates

Topographical List

Hellenistic Sealings and Archives — BRANKO F. VAN OPPEN DE RUITER

Pharaonic-Themed Sealings in the Edfu Hoard — ROBERT S. BIANCHI

Coins and Sealings: The Portraiture of Ptolemy VI–XII — CATHARINE C. LORBER

Hellenistic Motifs in the Edfu Hoard — BRANKO F. VAN OPPEN DE RUITER

Sealing the Deal: Representing Heracles in Selinunte — JANE L. AINSWORTH

A Review of Clay Sealings from an early Hellenistic Deposit at the Emporium of Pistiros — ZOSIA H. ARCHIBALD

Searching for the Archive of Doliche: A Preliminary Report on the Archive Repertoire —TORBEN SCHREIBER

Snowflakes and Quicksand: A Survey of Hellenistic Sealing Practices — SHARON C. HERBERT

Hellenistic Sealings in Context: The City Archive of Seleucia-on-the-Tigris — VITO MESSINA

Patterns of Use of Royal Portraits in Hellenistic Archives — LAURE MAREST

Archival Practices of the Chreophylakes at Dura-Europos — GAËLLE COQUEUGNIOT

Arsacid-period Seal Impressions from Uruk — RONALD WALLENFELS

Business as Usual? Seals and Sealings in the Hellenistic Far East — GUNNAR R. DUMKE