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Leaden Gospels

To accompany the 2013 Byzantine Studies symposium, “New Testament in Byzantium,” this exhibition presents and analyzes several of the rare Byzantine lead seals from the collection that depict New Testament narrative scenes and figures.

Although used to secure and authenticate documents, seals were much more than just a means to protect correspondence and records. The design on a seal was a deeply personal choice; the image chosen and the inscription reveal a great deal about the people who commissioned the seal. An individual's seal was at the same time a statement of who that person was, where they were in the social hierarchy, and often a statement of personal piety.

This exhibition is divided into two sections; Engraving Lives considers the seals depicting narrative scenes from the Gospels, while Architects of Faith explores seals that show the authors of the works that make up the New Testament. As the smallest Byzantine sculptures and expressions of faith and status, these seals add another dimension to our understanding of how the Byzantines related to the New Testament.


Exhibit Sections