Et Tu Antiquities

Ancient Greek and Roman Papyrus Bullae (sealings)

home Roman Coins Greek Coins Antiquities Specials Contact us

Back Next

Bullae are small clay pellets which were commonly used to close and notarize papyrus documents in the Hellenistic and early Roman eras.  Each carries an impression of an individual's seal ring on the obverse and the imprint of the papyrus fibers on the reverse.  It is also common to find remnants of the sealer's fingerprint along the edges from the forming of the impression.  The iconography depicted on bullae is individualized to the sealer and is a personal badge of importance to the person and/or his family.  Somewhere in these bullae's long history, a fire probably destroyed the papyrus documents and preserved the unbaked clay.  The following specimens, range in size from 10 to 20 millimeters across (3/8 to 3/4 inch) and portray a bit of the diversity available.

Papyrus Bullae    [ with thumbnail images ]

Papyrus Bullae, Terracotta, 1.87 grams, Ancient Rome, 1st - 2nd century AD
  height:    20 mm
  width:     18 mm (at widest point)
  depth:      6 mm (maximum)

Woman's bust facing to the right, hair in classic bun.  Fingerprints of maker along the sides, papyrus and string impressions on the reverse.  Larger piece than most with clear detail.

note:  ex-private NY collection assembled in the early 1980s.

$50.00

sold

Papyrus Bullae, Terracotta, 2.11 grams, Hellenistic Greece, 2nd - 1st century BC
  height:    21 mm
  width:     21 mm (at widest point)
  depth:      5 mm (maximum)
 

Confronting heads of a young male head facing right and a bearded man facing left.  Features of bearded man are consistent with those portraying Zeus.  Some minimal fingerprint detail on edges.  Nice papyrus impressions on reverse.

note:  ex-private NY collection assembled in the early 1980s.

$50.00

sold

Papyrus Bullae, Terracotta, 2.16 grams, Hellenistic Greece, 1st century BC
  height:    17 mm
  width:     16 mm (at widest point)
  depth:      9 mm (maximum)

Tyche of Antioch seated left.  Fingerprint and papyrus detail on sides and reverse.  On this piece you can see where it was folded over the string sealing the scroll.

note:  ex-private NY collection assembled in the early 1980s.

$45.00

sold

Papyrus Bullae, Terracotta, 2.13 grams, Ancient Rome, 1st - 2nd century AD
  height:    21 mm
  width:     19 mm (at widest point)
  depth:      6 mm (maximum)

Man's bust facing to the left seen from the rear.  Minor fingerprints of maker along the sides, strong papyrus and string impressions on the reverse.  Nice larger piece.

note:  ex-private NY collection assembled in the early 1980s.

$40.00

sold

Papyrus Bullae, Terracotta, 1.52 grams, Hellenistic Greece, 1st century BC
  height:    18 mm
  width:     15 mm (at widest point)
  depth:      6 mm (maximum)

Tyche of Antioch seated left upon rocks, river God swims below.  Deep, sharp impression on grey-brown clay.  The depth of the impression shows well on the picture but is a bit harder to see in hand.

note:  ex-private NY collection assembled in the early 1980s.

$55.00

Sold

Papyrus Bullae, Terracotta, 0.37 grams, Hellenistic Greece, 1st century BC
  height:    12 mm
  width:     10 mm (at widest point)
  depth:      4 mm (maximum)

Male bust facing right, wearing Greek cap.  Fingerprints of maker on edges of this petite piece made from grey clay.  Excellent style.

note:  ex-private NY collection assembled in the early 1980s.

$50.00

Sold

Papyrus Bullae, Terracotta, 0.59 grams, Ancient Rome, 1st - 2nd century AD
  height:    11 mm
  width:     10 mm (at widest point)
  depth:      5 mm (maximum)

Beautiful depiction of a Roman-style two-handled vase on this petite piece.  Sharp fingerprints on the edges, good impressions of papyrus on the reverse and hole from original string seal.

note:  ex-private NY collection assembled in the early 1980s.

$55.00

Sold

Papyrus Bullae, Terracotta, 0.46 grams, Hellenistic Greece, 1st century BC/AD
  height:    10 mm
  width:     11 mm (at widest point)
  depth:      4 mm (maximum)

Oxen walking to the right, crescent moon above.  Fingerprint of maker along the edge.  Hole from string visible.  This petite piece is made from grey clay.

note:  ex-private NY collection assembled in the early 1980s.

$45.00

sold

Papyrus Bullae, Terracotta, 0.76 grams, Ancient Rome, 1st - 2nd century AD
  height:    11 mm
  width:     13 mm (at widest point)
  depth:      7 mm (maximum)

Helmeted and winged Victory/Nike advancing left.  A bit difficult to see what Nike is holding.  Thick on the left tapering off to the right like a lot of these as they were folded over the string to seal the papyrus document.  Great impressions left from the papyrus.

note:  ex-private NY collection assembled in the early 1980s.

$40.00

sold

Papyrus Bullae, Terracotta, 1.48 grams, Ancient Rome, 1st - 2nd century AD
  height:    18 mm
  width:     17 mm (at widest point)
  depth:      6 mm (maximum)

Three animals pictured on the face of this piece.  Top, left appears to be a panther running to the right, the lower left, an oxen walking to the right and a dolphin on the right completes the seal.  Faint fingerprints of maker along the sides, papyrus impressions on the reverse.

note:  ex-private NY collection assembled in the early 1980s.

$45.00

sold

Back Next