One of the fascinating aspects of ancient jewelry is the fusion of form and function. This is particularly true for seal bead amulets, which were as much a practical tool as they were ornamental. As the name suggests, these items were usually bead-like in shape, often with at least one flat side that was meticulously engraved with symbolic designs or scripts.
The process of using these seal beads involved first pressing them into a medium such as sealing wax, clay, or even inking them and then pressing onto paper. This action would produce a mirror image of the seal's engraving. The intention behind this was not purely aesthetic but served an important practical purpose: to signify the identity or authority of the owner.

The possession of a seal bead amulet was a symbol of status and power, signifying a high social position in ancient societies. They were more than just indicators of rank, though. These intricately carved seals also held a spiritual or protective function. They were believed to serve as talismans or amulets, providing protection to their owners. This is a testament to the spiritual and supernatural beliefs prevalent in these ancient societies, where objects could be imbued with protective or beneficial properties.

Seal bead amulets remained in use for a remarkably long period. They were particularly prevalent in Eastern Persia and Afghanistan, where their use continued until the beginning of the 19th century. Today, these seal bead amulets are valuable artifacts that offer a glimpse into the cultures and customs of these ancient societies. They reveal a world where jewelry was not just for adornment, but a tool for authentication and a potent symbol of protection.

Royal Lion Seal

The beads in
my collection
are now for sale

through bead ID
for price


SB 1 -
18 * 18 * 17 mm
Click on pictures for larger version

A Glimpse of the Persian Achaemenid Empire (550-330 BC) Through Lion Seal Amulets

The compelling seal showcased above, along with all the seals presented here, were sourced from Afghanistan. However, they all unmistakably belong to the Persian culture, specifically to the influential Achaemenid Empire that thrived from 550 to 330 BC.

The lion depicted on the seal adopts the same pose as the
Golden Lion, an iconic representation associated with the Achaemenid era. The striking similarity indicates the overwhelming dominance of Persian culture in the region during this period.

Dating back to ancient Mesopotamian times, the lion has been a significant symbol of kingship. This emblem of power and royalty was used exclusively by the king or his administration in seal form. The lion was not merely a royal symbol; it was viewed as a royal animal. Only kings and their noble peers were permitted to keep or hunt lions, underlining the lion's status as a symbol of supreme authority.

The Achaemenid culture, from which this seal likely originates, upheld these traditions, cementing the lion's place as a crucial cultural symbol throughout this empire's reign.

Below, you'll find what is probably a primitive representation related to the standard of Cyrus the Great, the founding father of the Achaemenid Empire. The integration of these symbolic elements in seal amulets highlights the empire's societal norms, beliefs, and power structures, providing us with a richer understanding of its rich historical tapestry.



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Since the era of Cyrus the Great, Afghanistan has been a vibrant cultural crossroads. Located along significant trade routes, it absorbed and integrated a myriad of cultural influences from neighboring civilizations, including Persia and India.

The jasper seal showcased below exemplifies this cultural intermingling. The presence of the swastika, a prominent motif in both Buddhism and Hinduism, clearly points to Indian influence. In Buddhism, the swastika is considered a symbol of eternal cycling and infinity, while in Hinduism, it's seen as a mark of auspiciousness and good fortune. The fact that this symbol appears on a seal from a region primarily under Persian influence highlights Afghanistan's role as a dynamic melting pot of diverse cultures and traditions.


SB 2 - 20 * 18 * 15 mm
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 Ancient Jewish intaglio

Ancient Jewish Intaglio in carnelian stone  - 26 * 16 * 6 mm

Shema Yisrael: Echod Mashem Elomaynu Mashem Yisroel Shmah
Hear, O Israel: the LORD is our God, the LORD is one


This is a fascinating piece! The inscription "Shema Yisrael: Echod Mashem Elomaynu Mashem Yisroel Shmah," is a slight variation of the central Jewish prayer, the Shema, which reads "Hear, O Israel: the LORD is our God, the LORD is One" (Deuteronomy 6:4). This prayer has a central place in Jewish worship and is considered a declaration of faith and an affirmation of monotheism.

The depiction of the fish in the center could indeed be seen as a protective symbol, as per the Talmudic tradition. In Judaism, the fish is often seen as a symbol of fertility and good luck, and it is believed to provide protection against the evil eye - a malicious stare believed to cause harm or misfortune. The evil eye is a common belief in many cultures around the world, and protective amulets often bear symbols believed to guard against its effects.

As for the craftsmanship, the somewhat crude engraving might indeed suggest that this is provincial work. It's worth noting that during the ancient times, carnelian was a popular stone for intaglio work due to its hardness and the beautiful contrast between its orange-red color and the white lines that appear when it is engraved. A less refined carving could be indicative of the artisan's skill level, the tools available, or the prevailing style of a particular region or period.
In summary, this intaglio is a remarkable artifact that intertwines religious devotion, cultural belief in protective symbols, and artisanal craftsmanship. It provides an intriguing glimpse into the spiritual and material life of the Jewish communities in the ancient world.

A strange seven spoked wheel seal

SB 3 - 33 * 13 * 5 mm - SOLD

The subsequent seals showcased here belong to the Sasanian Empire, an Iranian civilization that spanned from 224 to 642 AD. These artifacts, despite being uncovered in Afghanistan, attest to the far-reaching influence of this last pre-Islamic Persian dynasty.

The Sasanian Empire, also known as Sassanian, Sasanid, or Neo-Persian Empire, was an influential period in the history of Iran, notable for its significant contributions to art, architecture, and culture. This period marked a renaissance of Persian traditions after centuries of Hellenistic influence.

A striking feature of Sasanian art was the use of intricate seal carving, a tradition that was highly regarded and developed into a sophisticated art form. The seals were typically made from semi-precious stones and carved with intricate designs, often representing Persian royal and religious iconography. They were not only used for official and personal purposes, such as stamping documents or sealing containers, but were also worn as beads, signifying the status and identity of the bearer.
Most of the seal beads displayed here are sourced from Afghanistan. Sassanian seal beads are even found in China. Given the exchange of goods, ideas, and cultures along the Silk Road and other trade routes, it is not surprising to find Sasanian artifacts in Afghanistan. This reflects the vast geographical expanse of the Sasanian Empire and its sphere of influence. The beads/seals shown here provide intriguing glimpses into the rich historical tapestry of the time, illustrating how cultural artifacts travelled and intermingled across regional boundaries.

The Lion King bead

SSB 1 - 25 * 18 * 13 mm
The Lion King
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Determining the authenticity of an artifact can be a challenging endeavor, given the complexities of historical periods, cultural influences, and the techniques employed in creating such items. The seal showcased above, according to most specialists, appears to be a reproduction rather than an authentic artifact from the Sasanian Empire. The techniques used, the materials, the wear patterns, and the iconography might all provide clues that suggest it's not from the claimed historical period.

However, the view that this might not be a Sasanian seal but a piece created around 500 years ago, during the late Middle Ages or early Renaissance, provides an alternative perspective. It's conceivable that artisans from this later period, whether due to cultural continuities or intentional revival of older styles, might have produced works resembling Sasanian seals.
To resolve this matter, a more in-depth examination might be needed, possibly involving techniques like thermoluminescence dating, spectrometric analysis or even microscopic examination to understand its age and origin better. Such an investigation would help to identify the source of the material, the tool marks, and the age of the wear patterns, among other things.

In the end, whether a counterfeit or a relic from a later period, the seal remains an interesting piece that speaks to the long-lasting influence of Sasanian artistry and the sometimes blurry lines of authenticity and replication in the realm of historical artifacts.


SSB 1 - 20 * 18 * 16 mm

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The seal shown above is indeed captivating, likely featuring a winged lion. Winged lions are ancient symbols found in various cultures, often symbolizing power, protection, and divine or royal authority. They are most commonly associated with the ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia but can be found in various others as well.

The choice of material for this seal—fossilized jasper—is equally intriguing. Jasper, a form of chalcedony, is renowned for its durability and diverse array of colors and patterns, making it a popular choice for carving and jewelry throughout history.

Royal Lion Seal Bead

SB 4 - 15 * 12 * 9,5 mm

SB 5 - 17 * 14 * 11 mm

The Gayomard Seal Bead

The Gayomard Seal Bead displayed below holds a remarkable place in the cultural and religious history of Sasanian Iran. The obligation for every free man to wear a stamp seal signifies the importance of individual identity and personal symbol in the Sasanian society. The fact that these seals frequently depicted astrological symbols further reveals the significant influence of astronomy and astrology in their worldview.

This seal is particularly fascinating as it illustrates the constellation Orion along with Sirius, also referred to as the Dog Star. This depiction ties the seal to a profound myth in Zoroastrianism, an ancient monotheistic religion of the region.


SB 6 - 22,5 * 21 * 16 mm
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In Zoroastrian mythology, Gayomard is considered to be the first mortal human ancestor. After his death, the story goes that he was guided over the Bridge of Separation (the Chinvat Bridge, a sifting bridge which separates the world of the living from the world of the dead) by the light of Sirius. This celestial body is personified as his loyal dog, Yellow Ears. Thus, Gayomard came to be associated with escorting the deceased to the underworld, an essential figure in Zoroastrian beliefs about the afterlife.

The interplay of celestial bodies, mythology, and personal insignia on this seal bead speaks volumes about the complex cosmological beliefs and social customs of Sasanian society. It illustrates the deep connection between personal identity, celestial observations, and religious beliefs, underscoring the richness and intricacy of this historical period.
Wheel cut engravings
The use of wheel cutting in creating the Gayomard seal bead indeed indicates the artisan's proficiency in this ancient method of engraving. Wheel cutting, which entails the use of a rotating tool to carve or cut designs into a hard material, has a long history and is not exclusive to any one culture or time period.

Contrary to the notion expressed by some that wheel cutting might suggest the artifact is a forgery, this technique is in fact deeply rooted in history. Its origins can be traced back to ancient China and the Middle East. Ancient glassworkers, for example, used wheel cutting to create intricate designs on glassware, a practice that continued into Roman times and beyond.

The intricate work on the Gayomard seal bead demonstrates the expertise of ancient artisans in harnessing this technique to create detailed and meaningful imagery. The bead is a testament not only to the religious beliefs and astrological understanding of the Sasanian society but also to the skill and ingenuity of its craftsmen.

As with any historical artifact, it's always essential to consider the context, provenance, and material evidence in assessing authenticity. The use of wheel cutting in itself does not signify a lack of authenticity, but rather aligns with the historical practices of ancient craftsmanship.



SB 7 - 
17 * 13 mm





SB 8 -  11 * 9 * 9 mm

SB 9  -  15 * 13 * 7 mm

Sassanian Warrior head Seals

SB 10 - 14 * 12 mm

SB 11 - 15 * 13 * 12 mm


SB 12 -  14,5 * 12 * 11 mm

SB 13  -  16,5 * 14 * 8,5 mm


SB 14 - 17 * 14 * 10 mm

Sassanian Scorpion seal Beads


SB 15 - 22 * 19 * 16 mm


SB 16 - 17 * 14,5 * 11 mm




SB 17 -  16 * 14 * 10 mm


SB 18 - 19 * 15 * 10 mm



SB 19  - 18 * 15,5 * 10 mm


SB 20 -  15 * 15 * 10 mm


SB 21 - 14 * 13 * 11,5 mm
This scorpion seal bead is made in the Indian translucent moonstone.
I have added light to make the translucent shine come more out.

Palm leaf Seals


SB 22 - 19 * 15 * 14 mm


SB 23  - 20 * 17 * 15 mm


SB 24  -  13,5 * 12 * 10,5 mm

Various motives


SB 25   -  14,5 * 12,5 * 11 mm
Whirling star motive


SB 26 - 15 * 13,5 * 10,5 mm
Whirling star motive


SB 27 -  11 * 10 * 7 mm
This is a very rare seal bead depicting a horse


SB 28  - 16 * 14 * 11 mm
Again a rare seal with the Blessing Hand. The Blessing Hand is known back to the
Indus Valley culture, later in Buddhism and in the Sassanian culture.
Later, when Islam became predominant in Persia, the Blessing Hand
survived in the form of
Fatimas Hand



SB 29 - 11,5 * 10 * 8,5 mm - Bird


SB 30  -  18 * 15 * 12 mm  -  Bird



SB 31 - 14,5 * 13 * 9 mm



SB 32 - 18 * 15 * 11 mm



SB 34 -  18 * 14,5 * 10 mm


SB 33  - 13 * 10 * 8 mm
Flower vase



SB 35 - 15 * 14,5 * 13 mm
Hematite bead - Unknown motive



SB 36 - 15 * 13 * 12 mm
Lord Gayomard - the first human


SB 37 - 21,5 * 19 * 15,5 mm
A large hematite seal bead with no motive, but with beautiful decorations.


Persian script

SB 38  -  21 * 11,5 * 8,5 mm
Seal with ancient persian scripture


Mother Goddess Seal Bead

SB 39 -  30 * 20 * 20 mm

Terra cotta Indus Valley Bull Seals


SB 40  -  18 * 18 mm
Indus Valley culture bull seals - before 1000 BC
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Contact: Gunnar Muhlman -