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What is a seal?


But, Genius, tell me, what is a seal?

A seal Fritz? Ach, this is an easy one! A seal is a small portable object made of stone or other material, such as bone or even metal, that has engraved motifs (intaglios) on at least one surface. As a rule seals have a trait that allows them to be worn on the body, such as a perforation!

Aha, I understand. So, can we say that seals look like beads but have engraved motifs on their face(s)?

Hmmm... Ok, yes, most are objects that resemble beads but have engraving. However, we also have finger-rings that have engraved representations on their bezels, these are called signet rings. They too are seals as they have intaglios and can be worn on the body. They can be worn via the hoop, either on the finger or around the neck if they are hung from a string!

Ok, I understand... But one last question, if I may... Why do you speak of 'seals' and not of 'seal stones'? I have read texts in books that call these objects 'seal stones', is this wrong?

Fritz, the term 'seal stone' means 'a stone with an engraved motif', so it only refers to seals that look like beads and are made of stone. But remember, I told you that we also have seals made of bone, metal and glass. And we also have signet rings that do not resemble beads. This is why I prefer the term 'seal', it nicely encompasses the totality of the material. 

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