Hebrew Seal From First Temple Period Discovered In Archaeological Excavations
According to the excavation director, archaeologist Shlomit Wexler-Bdolah of the IAA, “The seal, which apparently belonged to a private individual, is made of black stone, is elliptical in shape and measures 1.2 x 1.4 cm. It is adorned with an engraved decoration of an archer shooting a bow and arrow. The name of the archer is engraved in ancient Hebrew script next to him and reads LHGB (meaning: for Hagab). The name Hagab is mentioned in the Bible in Ezra 2:46, as well as in the Lachish Letters, which also date to the time of the First Temple”.
The seal was sent for expert evaluation to Professor Benjamin Sass of the Tel Aviv University and Dr. Tali Ornan of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. According to them the image of the archer was influenced by Assyrian wall reliefs in which archers are portrayed shooting bows and arrows – such as those that are known from the Lachish relief. The image of the archer appears in profile: he is standing in a firing position with his right foot in front of his left. His face is portrayed schematically but his body, his dress and especially the muscles of his arms and legs stand out prominently. He is barefoot.
His attire includes a headband and a skirt that is wrapped around his hips. A quiver hangs from his back and its straps are drawn tightly across his exposed chest. He is holding a bow and arrow in his hands. His right hand is extended forward holding the bow while his left is pulled back grasping the arrow. The seal is quite unique since this is the first time that a private seal has been discovered that bears a Hebrew name and is decorated in the Assyrian style. The seal attests to the strong Assyrian influence that existed in Jerusalem in the seventh century BCE. It is usually assumed that the owner of private seals were individuals who held government positions. We can suggest that the owner of the seal – Hagab, who chose to portray himself as a Hebrew archer depicted in the Assyrian style – served in a senior military role in Judah.
According to Dr. Doron Ben-Ami and Yana Tchekhanovets, directors of the excavation at the site on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “The earring was astonishingly well preserved, so much so that it seems it was manufactured only yesterday. The data we have available today about jewelry and the manufacture of jewels in the ancient world indicate that the earring, which was discovered in the ruins of a building which dates to the Byzantine period (fourth-fifth centuries CE), was apparently originally produced during the course of the Roman period (between the first century BCE and the beginning of the fourth century CE). Gold jewelry inlaid with precious stones and pearls were used throughout the Roman Empire – from the Roman provinces in the east to Britain in the west. One of the most detailed and impressive sources of information we have that were preserved from this period are the Fayum portraits that were discovered in Egypt. These drawings, which decorated the tombs of the mummies at Fayum, present an entire gallery of the deceased images dressed in their best attire and wearing expensive jewelry. It is interesting to note that in the portraits of the women from Fayum they are wearing gold earrings and necklaces that in most cases are inlaid with pearls and emeralds. These earrings are surprisingly reminiscent of the earring from the City of David, and it seems that they were fashioned in a similar technique.”