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Lasting Impressions Module

Throughout Byzantium’s long history its people used lead seals to guard and authenticate documents and objects. The designs and inscriptions pressed into seals were personalized by their owners to present information about their status, position, piety, and family. They are decorated with a great variety of religious and secular imagery and intricate inscriptions, all chosen by the individuals who owned them for very personal reasons. Each seal is a testament to someone living in the Byzantine Empire and no other single source provides so much information about such a broad range of individual Byzantines.

The exhibition

Lasting Impressions: People, Power, Piety

November 23, 2021–December 4, 2022 | This exhibition explores individual stories and family histories, the concept of status, developments in popular piety, and the inner workings of the state as shown through the intricate impressions on lead seals.

The Online Exhibit

Each lead seal is a small witness to an individual Byzantine and how they chose to present themselves. In exploring what seal owners said about themselves and how designs changed over a millennium we can explore the world in which Byzantines, from empresses to bathhouse attendants, lived. No other single source provides so much information about such a broad range of individual Byzantines. The online exhibit explores how seals were used and by whom, the imagery and text individuals used to represent themselves, and how historians work with seals today. Explore the online exhibit here.

Family Guide

Lasting Impressions: People, Power, Piety Family Guide

All ages | Explore Byzantine seals with your family using this guide designed to enhance your visit or support children's learning at home with close looking, drawing, and writing activities.

Hands-On Activities

3D Byzantine Seal: Write a Story Worksheet

Grades 6–8 | Look closely at a 3D model of an eleventh-century Byzantine seal and write a story about the figure based on your observations.

Monogram and Inscription Foil Impression Tutorial

Grades 6 and up | Learn about monograms and inscriptions on Byzantine seals and create your own design engraved in foil paper with this craft tutorial.

Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Letter Tutorial

Grades 4 and up | Write an official letter to friends or family secured with your own Byzantine seal.

Byzantine Seal Cookies

All ages | Make sugar cookies stamped with your own monogram or animal impressions.

Creature Collection Worksheet

Grades 3-5 | Learn about animals and mythological creatures on Byzantine seals in this matching and drawing worksheet.

Creature Foil Impression Tutorial

Grades 3 and up | Design your own Byzantine creature seal and engrave it in foil with this craft tutorial.