© The Israel Museum, Jerusalem

“SET ME AS A SEAL UPON YOUR HEART.” Thousands of ancient seals have been found throughout Israel and the Near East. They are usually carved out of limestone or semi-precious stone, but some are made of bone, glass, bronze or silver. Many seals were set in signet rings. Usually inscribed with the owner’s name, seals were used in the ancient world to identify, authenticate and protect the contents of documents and vessels.

The small number of female names on these seals indicates that very few women owned seals, and those women were probably royalty or of a high social status. In the photo, the Jezebel seal appears prominently at the center of this collection of seals from the Israel Museum.