David Harris

Rock Crystal Stamp Seal

In a pose often repeated in ivories, a cow suckles its calf while turning her head back to nuzzle the rump of her offspring. Although the provenance of this seal (right) is unknown, it is dated to about 900 B.C.E. by the letter forms in its inscription, seen right-reading in the impression on left. Harvard professor Frank Cross identifies the script as close to tenth- or ninth-century B.C.E. Aramaic. He reads the inscription as a personal name: B‘L‘DN, “Baal has given fertility.” Cross suggests that the seal belonged to a woman because other names containing the element ‘dn, known from the Bible and elsewhere, were those of women—for instance, Jehoaddin (Yahweh has given) the mother of Amaziah, king of Judah (2 Kings 14:2).