How Were Scrolls Sealed in Ancient Times?

In ancient times, scrolls were the primary means of storing and transmitting written information. These scrolls were made of various materials such as papyrus, parchment, or silk.

However, to ensure that the contents of these scrolls remained safe and secure, they needed to be sealed properly. In this article, we will explore how scrolls were sealed in ancient times.

Wax Seals

One of the earliest methods used to seal scrolls was through wax seals. This technique involved melting wax over the knot that secured the scroll and then impressing a seal onto the wax while it was still soft. The seal typically bore an emblem or design unique to the owner of the scroll and acted as a form of authentication.

The Process

To create a wax seal, one would need to follow several steps:

  • Firstly, a knot was tied around the scroll.
  • Then wax was melted in a spoon or other container.
  • The melted wax was poured onto the knot while still hot.
  • A signet ring or stamp with an emblem or design was pressed onto the soft wax.
  • The seal then hardened as it cooled down.

Thread Seals

Another method used to seal scrolls involved using thread seals. This method was more commonly used in East Asia and involved tying a string around the scroll before securing it with several knots.

To create a thread seal, one would need to follow several steps:

  • A string made from silk or other fibers was tied around the scroll.
  • Several knots were tied along with the string at regular intervals.
  • The knots were then coated with a mixture of flour and water paste.
  • Once the paste dried, it formed a hard coating that prevented anyone from tampering with the knots without breaking them.

Clay Seals

Another method used to seal scrolls was through clay seals. This technique involved impressing a seal onto a piece of clay, which was then attached to the scroll.

To create a clay seal, one would need to follow several steps:

  • A piece of clay was taken and rolled into a ball.
  • The ball of clay was then flattened into a disc-like shape with a smooth surface.
  • A signet ring or stamp with an emblem or design was pressed onto the surface of the clay disc.
  • The clay disc was then attached to the knot that secured the scroll.

Conclusion

In conclusion, ancient people employed various methods to seal scrolls depending on their geographical regions and available resources. Wax seals, thread seals, and clay seals were some of the most commonly used methods. These methods were effective in preserving the contents of scrolls and ensuring that they remained secure until they reached their intended recipients.