JERUSALEM, Israel -- The Israel Antiquities Authority discovered a rare seal from the time the Crusaders ruled Jerusalem in a neighborhood of the modern city.
IAA archaeologists unearthed the seal in Jerusalem's Bayit Vegan neighborhood a year and a half ago, but only recently identified it as a unique seal stamped by the Great Laura, the Monastery of St. Sabas.
The 800-year-old lead seal was stamped by the Monastery of St. Sabas.
St. Sabas (or Mar Sabas in Syriac) was one of the most important and influential leaders of the Christian monastic movement in the Judean Desert during the Byzantine era.
The seal (or bulla in Latin) would have been used to affix to a letter to ensure that a document would not be opened by an unauthorized person. It shows a the bust of a bearded saint holding a cross, with the Greek inscription naming Saint Sabas.
The IAA presented the seal to Theophilos III, the Greek Orthodox patriarch of Jerusalem.