Turkish archaeologists have unearthed more than 2,000 impressions of clay seals that ancient officials once used to attach government documents.
Researchers discovered the stamp collection during excavations at Doliche, an ancient Roman town located near Gaziantep in southern Turkey.
Clay stamps measure between 5 and 20 millimeters (0.2 to 0.8 inches) and were used to seal documents made of papyrus and parchment, a material made from the skin of a sheep or goat . Each seal contained an impression of a different god or religious symbol.
“Seals are small clay tokens, which were folded around strings that sealed legal documents and letters; then a seal was pressed into the clay to seal the documents.” Michael Bloemer, a professor of archeology at the University of Münster in Germany who worked on the excavation, told Live Science in an email. “These seals display a wide range of images. Many of them show religious images like gods and goddesses… others show portraits and some also feature inscriptions.”
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He added: “Analysis of the images can tell us about the cultural affiliations of the people of Doliche.”
At one time, Doliche was an important religious center and served as a sacred site for the Roman god Jupiter Dolichenus, the god of sky and thunder, according to the news site. Anatolian archeology.
The new artifacts were discovered inside the ruins of the city’s ancient archives building, used between the mid-2nd and mid-3rd centuries AD.
However, all that remains of the building are several limestone walls. The documents themselves “were destroyed in a major fire, perhaps in AD 253, when the Persian king Šāpūr I destroyed many cities in the Roman province of Syria,” archaeologists at the site told Anatolian Archaeology.
“Few ancient archive buildings are known, so we hope that the excavations of the Doliche archive will shed new light on the appearance and organization of this type of public architecture,” Blömer told Live Science.
This is not the first time that Blömer and his team have discovered impressions in Doliche. During previous excavations, they discovered around 4,000 similar seals at the site.
“This shows that the archives contained thousands of documents,” he said.