Choice condition. 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. Measures 5" in length.
Ancient South America