Line drawing of seal impression. Scene next to two columns of text depicts bearded man offering a vessel to a seated man.

"Collated line drawing of PFS 535*. Drawing by M.B. Garrison. Image courtesy of the Persepolis Fortification Archive Project and the Persepolis Seal Project."

Seals and Status:

Text and Images from the Persepolis Fortification Archive

Christina Chandler

ISAW Visiting Research Scholar

This lecture will take place online; a Zoom link will be provided via email to registered participants.

Registration is required at THIS LINK. 

The Persepolis Fortification Archive (PFA) is a large corpus of administrative documents from Persepolis dating to the reign of Darius I (509-493 BCE). The archive's texts record various administrative transactions related to the collection and redistribution of agricultural products. The PFA also preserves the impressions of over 4,000 distinct and legible seals. Approximately 200 of these 4,000 seals are inscribed – they carry both figural imagery and an inscription in their designs. Inscribed seals exhibit various features that often are specific to time and place; in almost all contexts in ancient Western Asia, inscribed seals are rare. Inscribed seals that are closely contextualized, such as those from the PFA, offer myriad research pathways. Sometimes, there is a special opportunity to match a particular inscribed seal with its user(s).

This lecture provides an overview of the glyptic evidence from the PFA, highlighting inscribed seals in particular. One inscribed seal, PFS 535*, carries an elaborate banquet scene and an Aramaic inscription that names an official at Persepolis. The various features of this seal, including its archival context, inscription, and figural imagery, form a case study that reveals some of the complexities (and potentials) of linking inscribed seals from the PFA to the individuals who used them.

Christina Chandler is an art historian and archaeologist who specializes in the glyptic arts of ancient Iran and Iraq from the first millennium BCE. She is a Visiting Research Scholar at ISAW during the 2022-23 academic year. She received her BA (2014) in Classics (summa cum laude) and English from the University of Colorado Boulder. She earned her MA (2016) and PhD (2021) from the Department of Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology at Bryn Mawr College. Her current research interests focus on the art and architecture of the Achaemenid Persian Empire, and its glyptic evidence in particular. She is especially interested in inscribed seals - seals that include both figural imagery and text - and what they reveal about the individuals who used them. 

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