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Anonymous (eleventh/twelfth century)

 
 

Obverse

Sacrifice of Isaac: Abraham, looking back at the manus Dei, is about to sacrifice Isaac, who kneels. At the left is an uncertain object, possibly an altar with fire burning; at the right is a tree and the ram which would be sacrificed in place of Isaac; remains of an inscription above Abraham. Inscription: ΑΡΑΜ̣ : Ἀβράμ. Border of dots.   

Reverse

Bust of Sarah with a tent in the background. Inscription in column at left: Η̣|Σ̣||Ρ|Α̣ : ἡ Σάρα.

Obverse

Sacrifice of Isaac: Abraham, looking back at the manus Dei, is about to sacrifice Isaac, who kneels. At the left is an uncertain object, possibly an altar with fire burning; at the right is a tree and the ram which would be sacrificed in place of Isaac; remains of an inscription above Abraham. Inscription: ΑΡΑΜ̣ : Ἀβράμ. Border of dots.   

Reverse

Bust of Sarah with a tent in the background. Inscription in column at left: Η̣|Σ̣||Ρ|Α̣ : ἡ Σάρα.

Accession number BZS.1958.106.2735
Diameter 19.0 mm; field: 16.0 mm
Previous Editions

DO Seals 7, 2.3.

Commentary

This episode from Genesis 22:1-13 is extremely rare for seal-imagery and except for the two following pieces in this collection the image of the Sacrifice of Isaac is not otherwise known on seals. In general, Old Testament scenes were not employed for sphragistic iconography. The Hospitality of Abraham (Genesis 18:1-15), that was used for Trinitarian imagery, is found on just one example (Šandrovskaja, “Sfragistika,” no. 784) as well as the depiction of the anointing of David by Samuel (I Kings 1-13) (Zacos-Veglery, BLS, 1:3, no. 2971). For the Byzantines, the Sacrifice of Isaac was understood as a prefiguration of the sacrifice of Christ and the Eucharistic offering. For this reason it is often included in sanctuary images in Byzantine churches. Unusual here is the prominence given to Sarah on the reverse who, although she is the mother of Isaac, is not included in the iconography of the scene of the Sacrifice of Isaac. Her image, too, is not known to appear on other seals.