Stamp seals from the Southern Levant: a multi-faceted prism for studying entangled histories in an interdisciplinary perspective

A SINERGIA research project funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation [CRSIIS_La6426]







This project addresses stamp seals, a common but highly valued and multi-functional artefact class, as a privileged media to study various aspects of ancient Levantine social, economic, cultural and religious history especially in pre-Hellenistic times. Its core aim is to develop an online open-access, collaborative and expandable database entitled Corpus of Stamp Seals from the Southern Levant (CSSL) as a sustainable reference tool for future research in several disciplines: archaeology, ancient history, biblical studies, history of religion\s, Mediterranean studies, and others including exact sciences. Another aim is to increase the value of the data by interdisciplinary cooperation involving the specialized expertise of an international network of scholars and institutions. The full and best currently available documentation will allow senior scholars, postdocs and PhD students of several disciplines (archaeology, biblical studies, history of religion\s) and three universities (Bern, Tel Aviv, Zurich) to conduct a series of in¬novative studies. The latter will, for example, explore seal designs and their iconography as a resource for religio-historical investigation; questions of social archaeology will be studied alongside matters of political and economic history; gender history, social archaeology and biblical studies will intersect in a study of seal use by women. We want to draw on the full potential of the glyptic material to develop new approaches both to the history of ancient Levantine society, culture, and religion, and to the study of biblical texts. Last but not least, a crucial aim is to bring the study of ancient glyptics into conversation with scientists.


An important overall concern of the project is to transmit established expertise and encourage a new generation of scholars to pursue, consolidate and renew the study of ancient glyptics as a key medium for understanding historical entanglements in the Southern Levant.


The project will establish its own website in due course.


Board of directors 

  • Prof. Dr. Christoph Uehlinger, University of Zurich, Department of Religious Studies (coordinator)
  • Prof. Dr. Silvia Schroer, University of Bern, Institute of Old Testament Studies
  • Prof. Dr. Stefan Münger, University of Bern, Institute of Jewish Studies
  • Dr. Ido Koch, Tel Aviv University, Department of Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Cultures


Project Modules                                                                                                                                     

A. Digital Humanities module: creating the CSSL database                  
Dr Ben Greet (Postdoc UZH), Dr Tatjana Beuthe (Postdoc UBE), Inbar Meyerson (Computing, TAU)    


B. Honoring CSSPI, moving forward to CSSL

(Includes final publication of CSSPI vols. VI–VII)


C. Exploring production, diffusion, and circulation—with a view on iconography

C1 – Production and diffusion; group characteristics and workshop issues (workshops)

C2 – Local and regional profiles and traditions: assessment and comparison (Dr Nadia Ben-Marzouk, Postdoc TAU/UZH)

C3 – The distribution of stamp seal motifs in the Southern Levant (Dr Eythan Levy, Postdoc UBE)


D. Connectivity: CSSL at the crossroads of disciplines

D1 – Social archaeology: context, function, and consumption (Noa Rantzer, PhD candidate TAU/UZH)         

D2 – Political, social and economic history: stamp seals and interconnections (Dr Giulia Tucci, Postdoc TAU/UBE)

D3 – Gender history: seals and sealing in gender-historical perspective (Bruno Bierman, PhD candidate UBE/UZH)

D4 – Biblical studies: assessing “iconographic exegesis” (Dr Silas Klein Cardoso, Postdoc UBE/UZH)

D5 – History of religion\s: new perspectives on the history of ancient Levantine religion\s in the second and first millennia BCE (Dr Fabio Porzia, Postdoc UZH)

D6 – CSSL and exact sciences: exploring a new interface (workshops)


E. Decades of change: contextualizing a long-term research project in its history and interdisciplinary ramifications


* TAU: Tel Aviv University, UBE: University of Bern, UZH: University of Zurich.


CSSPI’s development over almost 50 years reflects tremendous changes in scholarship, whether in terms of technology, methods, theoretical models, or scholarly paradigms. Adding a self-reflective dimension to the project will allow us to historicize our own research, to critically reflect how historical knowledge is framed by the conditions of its production, and evaluate how much our research is embedded in and impacted by changing concerns of society at large.


Project duration: 4 years (January 2020 – December 2023)






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