Hundreds of Northwest Semitic inscribed seals combine on a single artifact image and script. Both the pictures and the inscriptions are instrumental for our understanding of the cultural and religious history of Syria and Palestine. But while the seals' inscriptions have been the focus of studies since the 19th century, their figurative decoration has only rarely been approached in a systematic way.
The present volume contains revised versions of papers read at a symposium held at the University of Fribourg (Switzerland) on April 17-20, 1991. Designed as a stimulus for further research in a much neglected area, it offers methodological discussions relating to the classification of seals into ethnic or national corpora, and studies on some specific iconographical motifs such as the winged disk or Mesopotamian-inspired scenes of worship. Five articles discuss the iconographical repertoires of Phoenician, Aramaean, Ammonite, Moabite, and Hebrew inscribed seals. A final contribution offers preliminary conclusions, issues for future glyptic and religio-historical research, and an inquiry into the apparent contradiction between decorated Hebrew seals on the one hand, and ancient Israel's supposed aniconism and the biblical image ban on the other.