Seals and Stamps
Ceramic | Terracotta | Fired Clay
Secretaría de Cultura de la Presidencia
Import restricted since 1995.
Section 2b of Designated List in force since 1995.
Ceramic seals present a high-relief pattern on clay surface and are thought to have been used with paint to stamp designs for body and/or textile decoration. Some were used to impress designs on still-wet pottery objects. Some seals have been found still covered with red pigment. Seals may be flat, with a spike handle on the rear, or cylindrical and used by rolling. Cylinder seals usually have a central perforation that would have allowed a stick to be passed through and facilitate their use like rolling pins.
Dating: To date, seals have been found in El Salvador in contexts ranging from the Late Preclassic and Late Classic Periods (in relation to the Chul, Caynac and Payu Ceramic Complexes and the Tamasha Phase).
Appearance: Well-smoothed and sometimes slipped surfaces. Color ranges from black-brown through reddish-brown and red.
Size: Flat seals=1.2–5’’ (3–13cm) in diameter; cylinder seals may be 2.4–5’’ (6–12cm) in length.
Formal Names: Usually referred to as seals or stamps, flat or cylindrical (see Sharer 1978; Demarest 1986; Amaroli 1987).
Example shown: Pre-Columbian ceramic cylindar seal, Late Preclassic to Classic period.
For import restrictions in force from 1987, see History of Import Restrictions below.