The “Adoniram” collection was formed by a Swiss collector during a period of over twenty years. None of the items have exact provenance; all were purchased from dealers in England, Switzerland, the United States and the Middle East.
The collection includes 29 inscribed items: two bronze arrowheads, twenty-two stone seals, two gold pendants, and three bronze weights. Together they cover a period of seven hundred years, from the 11th century through the 5th century BCE.
The arrowheads are Phoenician, of the 11th century BCE, and bear a possessive inscription indicating ownership. The exact purpose of marking ownership on arrowheads remains obscure, as does the use of such arrows. Several suggestions have been made:
- They served in hunting to indicate who made the killing
- They were used in competitions
- They served as objects of belomancy, i.e., they were used for divination or drawing of lots by means of arrows, a widespread practice in antiquity
- They are votive and were offered with a prayer before a battle, or with thanks afterwards
- They were marked simply to indicate ownership on the weapon as it was a valuable property.
The twenty-two seals, meanwhile, are divided into six groups:
- Two Israelite Hebrew seals
- Three Judean Hebrew seals
- Two Phoenician seals (one Phoenician/Punic)
- Thirteen Aramaic seals (one Aramaic or Hebrew)
- An Ammonite seal
- A Greek seal
The majority are of West Semitic origin and date from the 8th through the 6th century BCE; one is archaic Greek from the 5th century BCE.
These were personal seals used mainly to seal papyrus documents. They are inscribed and indicate ownership. Two Phoenician-Punic gold pendants, one rectangular and the second round, are inscribed in Punic and are probably from Carthage. The three bronze weights are marked with Aramaic inscriptions indicating the value of the weights; the style and language point toward a provenance in the kingdom of Hamathin Syria.
The collection is of historical value and makes an important contribution to our knowledge of the past. This is also the main reason that the family collected ancient inscribed material.
Table of Contents
- The Seal Collection
- Israelite Hebrew Seals
- Israelite or Judean Hebrew Seals
- Judean Hebrew Seals
- Possibly Hebrew Seals
- Phoenician Seals
- Possibly Phoenician Seals
- A Phoenician Seal with Pseudo-Script
- Aramaic Seals
- Ammonite Seals
- Possibly Ammonite Seals
- Moabite Seals
- Possibly Moabite Seals
- Possibly Edomite Seals
- Questionable and Forged Seals
- Onomastic Notes
- Personal Names
- Place Name, Vocabulary, Abecedaria