Christina Chandler – Carving Out Official Identities: Inscribed Seals with Titles from the Persepolis Fortification Archive

Published: March 1, 2023

Carving Out Official Identities: Inscribed Seals with Titles from the Persepolis Fortification Archive

Christina Chandler

Friday, March 3, 2023 at 3:00pm, Kaplan Hall 348

The administrative documents from the Persepolis Fortification Archive (PFA), 509-493 BCE, offer a rich corpus of glyptic imagery. Among the approximately 4,100 distinct and legible seals impressed on the archive’s clay tablets, approximately 200 seals are inscribed, carrying both figural imagery and text in their designs. Inscribed seals exhibit various features that often are specific to time and place; in almost all contexts in ancient Western Asia, inscribed seals are rare. Inscribed seals that are closely contextualized, such as those from the PFA, offer myriad research pathways.

This lecture provides an overview of the glyptic evidence from the PFA, highlighting inscribed seals in particular. A small group of these inscribed seals stands out for the inclusion of titles in the seal inscriptions. The accompanying figural imagery on these seals is often highly detailed and provides interesting variation on typical Persepolitan compositions. The various features of this group of seals, including archival context, inscriptions, and figural imagery, form a case study that reveals some of the ways in which officials used inscribed seals to create distinctive administrative identities.

About the speaker

page1image29086176Christina Chandler is an archaeologist and art historian specializing in the glyptic arts of ancient Iran and Iraq from the first millennium BCE. Her current research interests focus on the art and archaeology of the Achaemenid Persian Empire, and its glyptic evidence in particular. She is especially interested in how inscribed seals – seals that include both figural imagery and text in their designs – reveal information about the individuals who used them, as well as the larger artistic environment. Additional areas of interest include the use of text and images in the creation of royal ideology and how the artistic traditions of Mesopotamia influenced Achaemenid culture.

Since 2013, Christina has worked with the Persepolis Fortification Archive Project of the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago to document the seal impressions preserved on administrative tablets excavated from the Achaemenid Persian city, Persepolis. Currently, Christina is a Visiting Research Scholar at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World (ISAW) at New York University. At ISAW, Christina is further studying the inscribed seals from Persepolis, the subject of her PhD dissertation, in preparation for publishing the first complete catalogue of the inscribed seals. She is also collaborating on a comprehensive (re)publication of the glyptic material from the Treasury Archive at Persepolis.

Christina received her BA in Classics (summa cum laude) and English from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She earned her MA and PhD from the Department of Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology at Bryn Mawr College.