2,500-year-old seal belonging to a woman unearthed in Jerusalem

The Israel Antiquities Authority says finding ancient seals belonging to women is very rare.

Story highlights

  • Ancient seal found in Jerusalem, and it goes back at least 2,500 years
  • It's rare find because it belonged to a woman, indicating her high social status

(CNN)An ancient seal from Israel's "First Temple era" was recently uncovered, according to the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The "First Temple," also known as Solomon's Temple, goes back to Biblical times.
    It's believed this seal is more than 2,500 years old and belonged to a woman described as "exceptional" or quite well-off in society at the time.
    "Finding seals that bear names from the time of the First Temple is hardly a commonplace occurrence, and finding a seal that belonged to a woman is an even rarer phenomenon," the Antiquities Authority said in a news release.
    "She had legal status which allowed her to conduct business and possess property," it went on.
    It was one of a pair of seals that were located bearing the Hebrew names Elihana bat Gael and Sa'aryahu ben Shabenyahu.
    "Personal seals, such as those of Elihana and Sa'aryahu, were used for signing documents, and were frequently inlaid as part of a ring that was worn by the owner," said archaeologist and excavation directors Dr. Doron Ben-Ami, Yana Tchekhanovets and Salome Cohen.
    "In antiquity, they designated the identity, genealogy and status of the owner of the seal."
    Dr. Hagai Misgav of Hebrew University in Jerusalem added, "Seals that belonged to women represent just a very small proportion of all the seals that have been discovered to date. This is because of the generally inferior economic status of women, apart from extraordinary instances such as this.
    "Indeed, the name Elihana does not appear in the Bible, and there is no other information regarding the identity of the woman, but the fact that she possessed a seal demonstrates her high social status."