Courtesy Robert Deutsch

A royal seal. The eminent epigrapher Nahman Avigad died in 1992, believing that he had never seen a seal impression of a king of ancient Judah. But in the decade after his death, several newly revealed seal impressions would prove that a bulla that Avigad published in 1986 (bulla 1, shown here), indeed bore an impression of a seal of the Judahite king, Hezekiah (ruled 727–697 B.C.E.). Each of the new bullae has a scarab similar to the one on Avigad’s bulla—plus a more complete inscription that identifies the owner of the seal as Hezekiah.

Bulla 2, for example, bears the full name of Hezekiah and looks so similar to Avigad’s bulla that some scholars, including author Robert Deutsch, at first thought that both were made from the same seal. Deutsch changed his mind, however, when he saw two lines above the top edge of the scarab’s right wing in bulla 2; Avigad’s bulla had only one line above the scarab’s wing. This convinced Deutsch that the two bullae were produced by different seals.