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Archaeologists discover a very important ancient woman's seal

She probably used it to sign official documents 2,500 years ago.


March 7, 2016 | Latest Photo Prev Next
sealsealPhoto: Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images
March 7, 2016 | Latest Photo

This isn't the sort of old jewelry you'd find at a vintage store.

Archaeologists have spent nine years excavating the Jerusalem Walls National Park, and they found two seals inside a structure built of squared stone. The seal in the photo bears the name "Elihana bat Gael" and is more than 2,500 years old.

According to the excavation directors, “the owner of the seal was exceptional compared to other women ... she had legal status which allowed her to conduct business and possess property.”

Seals like these designated the identities, genealogies and statuses of their owners. People often wore them on rings and used them to sign documents.

archaeologyYana Tchekhanovets, an Israeli archaeologist, displays a figurine discovered with the seals. (Photo: Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images)

According to Dr. Hagai Misgav of Hebrew University in Jerusalem, “Seals that belonged to women represent just a very small proportion of all the seals that have been discovered to date. This is because of the generally inferior economic status of women, apart from extraordinary instances such as this."

Dr. Misgav adds, “Most of the women’s seals that are known to us bear the name of the father rather than that of the husband. Here, as in other cases, this might indicate the relatively elevated status of Elihana, which depended on her original family, and not on her husband’s family. It seems that Elihana maintained her right to property and financial independence even after her marriage, and therefore her father’s name was retained."

Apparently, women have been forces in business and public life for a pretty long time.

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Related Topics: Archaeology