Roman Bronze Signaculum with Slave and Master Name
An Ancient Roman rectangular bronze signaculum, an identity tag, which would have belonged to the slave or domestic worker of an aristocratic family. The stamp features a raised inscription to the reverse, written on two lines, reading: SEXTONS/ Q.M.P. Although is impossible discern the original owner of such seal, the word SEXTONS might be interpreted as Sextonius, a masculine proper noun, possibly the name of the slave or domestic worker, while the three letters on the second lines might be the initials of Quintus Maximus Popilius, his master. The reverse appears unworked and missing the original loop for attachment.
Date: 1st-4th Century AD Provenance: From a private German collection, pre 2000. Condition: Fine, loop to the front missing.
Signacula were extremely popular across all territories of the Roman Empire, between the 1st and 4th century AD. Signacula were matrix-produced, rectangular-shaped lead or bronze plaques, melt together with a hoop ring to the front for attachment. Rectangular-shaped signacula are the most common, however many different shapes, including hearts, crosses and planta pedis, have been excavated. The reverse would have usually featured letters in relief, either simple initials or onomastic formulas. The majority of bronze signacula seals have been referred to slaves or domestic workers, who would have used such stamps to mark products and different types of stocks. Notably, loafs of bread have been recovered from Pompeii with stamped marks, as a testimony of the use of signacula. Bronze seal tags were also popular among Roman soldiers.