An extremely rare seal believed to depict Egypt’s “Ramses the Great” was recently discovered at a charity sale.
A treasure hunter has come across an ancient Egyptian seal that could be more than 3,000-years-old. He chanced upon the ancient seal while digitally rummaging in other people’s discarded stuff that was being sold online. Archaeologist James Balme, who paid just $19 for the seal on a charity website, is convinced it bears the cartouche of “Ramses the Great,” who ruled the entire Egypt between 1,279 and 1,213 BC.
Cartouches were quite common in Egypt. If the seal is oval and contains a horizontal line at one end, you can be sure the text on the same contains a royal name. Balme admits he accidentally came across the ancient artifact while sifting through the website of a charity shop in Hertfordshire.
Explaining his find, Balme said, “The carved stone has hieroglyphs carved into one side that can be used as a seal, and a scene on its reverse, showing a man sitting down with an eagle over his head and a scarab beetle at his feet.”
The seal must have been mistaken for an ordinary trinket for all these years, because you have to make an impression with it to see what it means. Moreover, not everybody is an expert at reading the ancient symbolic language, much less decipher its true meaning, felt Balme, who also works as a television presenter.
Astonishingly, the seal still has traces of red ochre as well as grains of sand embedded deep inside the carved lines of the object. The scene depicted on the ancient seal is certainly not common, prompting Balme to seek the opinion of experts to work out just how rare his $19 find is.
“As the cartouche is the royal seal of Ramses II then it is plausible that the figure seated could be that of Ramses himself (illustrated in a cast relief depicting the pharaoh hunting). This is a real mystery at the moment but an exciting one nonetheless. The hieroglyphics on the flat face of the stone should be able to be translated in the coming weeks telling us more about the history of the stone.”
Though the art may be uncommon, amulets in the form of cartouches displaying the name of a king were quite commonly placed in tombs, worn, carried as a symbol of good luck. These seals were even worn by pharaohs, and the oval surrounding their name was meant to protect them from evil spirits in life and in death.
These seals tell a fascinating tale and can easily offer invaluable insights into the life of ancient Egyptians. Whether the seal that supposedly has “Ramses the Great,” is a rare find or not, will soon be announced.
[Image Credit | James Balme, Codadilupo78/Wikimedia Commons]