Shlomo Moussaieff Collection, London

“Belonging to Ahaz (son of) Yehotam, King of Judah,” reads the Hebrew inscription impressed onto this bulla (lump of clay), which was originally used to secure a papyrus scroll. Ancient bullae and seals are not uncommon, but this is the first that can be attributed to a Hebrew king: Ahaz, who ruled over Judah from 732 to 716 B.C.E.

Papyrus scrolls were commonly tied with string; the bulla was placed over the knot. The sender then pressed his seal onto the clay, making the document official.