According to a study in the magazine, a stamped seal was found in the ancient village of Tel Tsaf from the 5th millennium BC. Excavated Levant by archaeologists Michael Freikman and David Ben-Shlomo from the University of Ariel and Yosef Garfinkel from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, respectively.
Of the almost 150 seals that were discovered at the Tel Tsaf site, this is the only one stamped. In addition, it is the oldest stamped seal ever found in Israel.
In the 5th millennium BC The wealthy residents of Tel Tsaf had the opportunity to buy goods from Mesopotamia, Turkey, Egypt and the Caucasus. The study suggests that the stamped seal could be a mark of the region’s rich trading system and that it is related to administrative practices. A seal would have been used to identify a person so it might have been used to authenticate documents.
The dark gray tone of the stamped seal bears two distinct patterns: one geometric impression with nearly a dozen horizontal lines crossing a long vertical one and another with parallel zigzag lines. An imprint of rope on the underside indicates that it was “placed on a hard and flat surface that is connected to rope before it was embossed with two or three different seals,” the researchers write. Since it was found in a storage room, they believe it was kept “purposely as a record of a previous trade or as evidence of the completion of a transaction”.
Earlier discoveries in Tel Tsaf include pottery, pearls, shells, animal bones and flint, and a clay figure that resembles a dog. There were also a number of uncovered burials, including that of a woman buried with a rare metal awl, obsidian beads, and an ornate belt made of 1,668 ostrich eggshell beads. In addition, archaeologists have found small pieces of reshaped pottery that they believe were “used as reminders or tokens to keep track of the amount and type of goods stored,” according to the Levant Paper.
Because of the immense storage facilities that archaeologists have discovered, the people living there had an excess of grain that may have been sold for certain goods. Seals like the newly found may have been used on containers brought into and out of the village to mark them as shipments for this grain. Since the written language had not yet been invented, it would have been an important form of communication, trade and property delimitation, especially for the hub of a local trade network.