Courtesy Larry G. Herr

A high royal official owned the seal that made this impression on the broad end of a wet clay cone, later baked hard and perhaps used as a stopper for a juglet. Pairs of parallel lines divide the impression into three panels. The central panel contains a typical scene found on Ammonite seals. In the middle, a scarab beetle with four outstretched wings uses its pincer-equipped head to push a small solar disk. Two pillars, each topped by a solar disk and crescent moon, flank the beetle. Above these pillars are two letters of the seal’s inscription, which begins in the top panel and ends in the bottom panel.

“Belonging to Milkom’ur, servant of Baatyasha” says the inscription in Ammonite script dated to the early sixth century B.C.E. The seal owner’s name incorporates the name of the Ammonite national deity, Milkom, and most likely meant ”Milkom is light.” Baalyasha is probably the Ammonite spelling for the Biblical king Baalis (Jeremiah 40:14), the ruler of Ammon in 582 B.C.E., because the script of the impression dates to the same period and the divine element Baal rarely occurs in Ammonite names.

Found in building A (see photo and plan) at Tell el-‘Umeiri, 37 miles east of Jerusalem, this seal impression helps to establish the structure as part of the Ammonite royal bureaucracy.