Sealings before cities: new evidence on the beginnings of administration in the ancient Near East

Michael Freikman*, Yosef Garfinkel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The sealing of receptacles and storage facilities is one of the most conspicuous features related to early administration in the protohistoric Near East. It has been known and discussed for decades in the context of the northern Levant and Mesopotamia. Until recently, this phenomenon had not been attested in the southern Levant. However, in this paper the authors present an assemblage of sealings discovered in the excavations of Pre-Pottery Neolithic layers at Munhata, Pottery Neolithic deposits at Sha‘ar Hagolan and Middle Chalcolithic remains at Tel Tsaf, all located in the Beth-Shean Valley. We propose here, definitions of protohistoric sealings and their typology and function, and discuss the significance of this phenomenon for early administrative activity in the ancient Near East.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-45
Number of pages22
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2 Jan 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, © Council for British Research in the Levant 2017.


  • Chalcolithic
  • Munhata
  • Neolithic
  • Sha‘ar Hagolan
  • Tel Tsaf
  • early administration
  • sealings

RAMBI Publications

  • Rambi Publications
  • Public administration -- Eretz Israel -- History -- To 586 B.C
  • Seals (Numismatics) -- Middle East
  • Pottery, Ancient -- Eretz Israel
  • Middle East -- Antiquities


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