The Hoshea seal was not meant to stand alone. Originally, it was mounted in a housing so that its owner, Abdi, could easily stamp it on a bulla (a lump of wet clay), producing a clear impression. The original mounting and seal were at some point separated, perhaps to be sold individually on the antiquities market—a procedure sometimes more lucrative than selling an object as a single piece.

Is it likely that the 2-inch-wide golden mounting, shown on this issue’s cover, once belonged to Abdi and housed his seal?

There are several reasons to believe so. First, the sizes correspond exactly; the orange chalcedony seal fits neatly into the rich golden housing. Second, the mounting’s double-S shape is well attested in the period from which the seal dates (eighth century B.C.E.): Not only are its wire and milled style consistent with the jewelry of the period, but several similar contemporaneous bronze mountings, and at least one made of gold, have been found.g From the top of the mounting, we can tell that it was hung with a small golden chain; the seal and its mounting were probably worn as a pendant, or as the central piece in an ornate necklace. Finally, the very opulence of this golden mounting, with its graceful curves and fine granulation, suggests that it belonged to a person of high rank, very possibly to a man such as Abdi, the servant of King Hoshea.