Beautifully artistic flat round seal with a bird in center. Choice condition. Manabi,
Ecuador. 500BC - 500AD. Very large piece. Measures over 3.5" in Dia.
The function of Pre-Columbian seals has long been a matter of debate. They were not
used to stamp clay like Near Eastern seals. The lack of evidence in the archaeological
record led various researchers to suggest that these seals could have been used for
body painting, decorating ceramics, bark or textiles, or sculpting sand. However,
Anthony Ortegon's study, "Pre-Columbian Stamp Seals," indicates with a fair amount
of certainty that these seals were used to decorate food, specifically breads. His
studies indicate that most stamp seals yield evidence of absorbed starches in laboratory
testing, which would only occur if the seals were used regularly in the production
of food. Although both flat and roller seals were used in food production, roller
seals are far less common. Ortegon cites the ratio of flat to roller seals in museum
collections as approximately 35:1.