Mme. Biasi, courtesy of Cabinet Des Medailles

The Ring of Hanan, son of Hilqiyahu, the priest. Startling in its completeness, this 2,500-year-old ring may have adorned the finger of the son of the high priest Hilqiyahu (Hilkiah in English Bibles). Hilkiah is reported in 2 Kings 22:8 to have found a scroll of the Torah in the Temple during the reign of King Josiah of Judah (639–609 B.C.). Today most scholars believe that this scroll was part of the Book of Deuteronomy.

Encrusted with patina, the ring still holds the agate seal mounted on it. The seal’s inscription comprises three lines of mirror-image, paleo-Hebrew writing—reversed on the seal so that when pressed into clay the inscription will read correctly. The lines of writing are separated by two, straight, parallel lines. The inscription declares, “(Belonging) to Hanan, son (of) Hilqiyahu, the priest.” It has been dated to the seventh century B.C., based on the shape of the letters.

A light blue vein adds a dash of color to the agate seal, and a double cable-circle surrounds the bezel of the ring. Five knobs, adjacent to both sides of the bezel, also decorate the ring; they are arranged with three above two in triangular areas enclosed by cable circles.