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Lasting Impressions: People, Power, Piety

November 23, 2021–November 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.

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.

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 seals.

This exhibition is curated by Jonathan Shea, Associate Curator of Coins and Seals.