Byzantine Lead Bullae

SKU C.0736

8th th Century AD to 10th th Century AD


1.25″ high





Gallery Location



Obverse: depicts two facing, draped busts, both with halo
Reverse: six lines of Greek script as follows, some now eligible [_ _ /_C??T/???C?_/???G??/ ?????/_C???].

During the Byzantine period, lead bullae (singular, Bulla) were widely used to seal and identify the sender of correspondence and containers in shipment. After the cord was wrapped around the package or document and the ends inserted in a channel in the blank seal, the seal was placed between the disc-shaped engraved dies on the jaws of a boulloterion, a pair of pliers of sorts used to impress the design. The boulloterion had a projection above the jaws, which was struck with a hammer to impress the design on the seal and close the channel around the two ends of the cord. With the bulla in place a container cannot be violated without visible damage to either the bulla or the cord, ensuring the contents remain tamper-proof until they reach their destination.

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