LMLK Seals in the Herbert B. Stearns Collection

Biblical Accounts
NonBiblical Accounts

x (cannot classify)


Personal Seals



This page summarizes the private collection of Herb Stearns, photographed by his daughter, Wendy Bornstein.  The following commentary was written by him for publication on this website:

Over the course of my lifetime, spanning over six decades, I have had the opportunity to build a rich, varied, and extensive library.  In addition to this library, assembled as a labor of love, is an extensive collection of antiquities from the Holy Land, which additionally contains historical materials from other periods.  The antiquities collection includes all types of terra cotta, glass, bronze, silver, gold, and numismatic objects.  These objects represent every archaeological period for pre-historic and ancient Israel, in addition to prominent related civilizations and tribal entities.

One collection, specifically devoted to epigraphy, includes a Royal Ur III Dynasty "Shulgi" cuneiform tablet with royal seal and deification mark above the royal name, a cuneiform cone, and part of a cuneiform tablet envelope.  The epigraphy collection also includes Paleo-Hebrew inscribed weights, a bulla fragment, and a representative spectrum of high quality La Melech handles, photographs of which are presented here.

The La Melech handles bear a wide range of inscriptions.  These include each of the four designated royal administrative centers during the reign of King Hezekiah including additional symbol handles, the seal of a royal administrative official who was a contemporary of King Hezekiah, an ostracon with the more modern Hebrew or Aramaic writing from the Persian period bearing a short inscription, a stamped inscribed Greek handle, as well as a Yehud handle.

Over the past eleven years, my wife Audrey and I acquired and assembled all of the exhibits and antiquities that were displayed in the Museum of Biblical Archaeology in Columbus, Ohio, and in its successor, the Museum of Archaeology and Biblical History, a part of Southwest Trinity University in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  We have served as co-curators in Columbus and now as associate curators in the Albuquerque museum.

My wife and I now live in a beautiful part of Florida, where I am retired.  I continue to collect objects of historical antiquity and I teach, as well as occasionally lecture on Middle East history and archaeology.  One of the great rewards of this avocation has been meeting such fine people, who share these interests, as G.M. Grena, Michael Welch, and Kris Udd.  Also such people as Philip King, Joseph Aviram, Dr. Mel Lyons (of blessed memory), along with Wesley Moran at Harvard University (recently passed on) and many others made the journey with us throughout our careers in Ancient Middle East history, archaeology, and theology.

Yigael Yadin, also of blessed memory, was as gracious as he was brilliant!!  He was a great Israeli general, and he was unsurpassed as an archaeologist.  He employed his genius at Masada to take what would have normally taken 123 years to excavate, which he achieved at the site of this 23-acre city in only 5 years.  He explained to us that when the mini-series "Masada" was being filmed, they had to spend one million dollars to construct a replica of the siege machine that was used on the Roman ramp to breach the walls.  Professor Yadin agreed, and fully cooperated with the producers of that mini-series (that starred both Peter O'Toole and Peter Strauss), with the condition that they leave behind the reconstructed siege machine at Masada as property of the Park Service, and of "Medinat Yisrael" (Nation of Israel).

While excavating Masada, he achieved the first ever excavation/reconstruction of an archaeological site by working at the site with the Army Corps of Engineers!!  A black line was drawn, above which was reconstruction, and below which was excavation.  I actually own a piece that is the size of a small shard with the black paint on the above section, which I use in my classes, and which I greatly treasure.  He also took storage jar and amphora handles that could not be used for restoration because they did not match vessels that he excavated, and he placed the archaeology markings on each one of those handles, had special presentation boxes made, with special museum stands made by the Israel Museum, and gave them to dignitaries who came to tour Masada in his company.  I also own and treasure, and could never part with, one of those handles on the Israel Museum stand in that specially made box for dignitaries!!

He flew over Ebla (Tell Mardikh), and by doing so he determined the location of the water supply at Hazor, which he later excavated.  On a second flight over Ebla, he said he knew where to find the archives at Hazor, but he passed away before he could proceed with that project.

During a 1970s lecture series, the program for which I still have, it was presented as fact by one of the 5 or 6 major Mid-East archaeologists, that a cuneiform tablet from Ebla mentions the 5 Cities of the Plain in the same order they appear in Genesis 14.  Also presented as fact at that series by Dr. Talman of Hebrew University, was the finding of a tablet naming Abraham, son of Ebrom ("his father"), which in Hebrew translates to Terah.  The government of Syria, infuriated by these finds, hired archaeologists who would, from that point onwards, interpret all archaeological finds at the excavation of the Ebla site as early Syrian history, completely divorced from the Hebrew Bible with no connection to Judaism!!  At this point, all Biblical related tablets were hidden and denied by the Syrian government and all archaeological reports.

Yigal Yadin died at a young age.  He told Audrey and me that his biggest mistake was going into politics where he became Deputy Prime Minister under Menahem Begin, and frankly, I believe that that was a horrendous experience for him, and was probably the reason that he died so prematurely.  He was one of the greatest heroes of Israel, and yet some (obviously hoodlums) desecrated his grave several years ago for no apparent reason.

Our careers in United States History autograph materials and ephemera were equally involved with the finest and most well known authorities in that field.

General statistics:
  • 3 HBRN
  • 2 MMST
  • 1 SUKE
  • 1 ZYF
  • 0 Generic
  • 1 cannot classify by inscription

  • 6 2-winged
  • 2 4-winged
Specific statistics: Generic HBRN MMST SUKE ZYF
2-Winged (Rigid & Top-Register) 0 0 0 0 0
2-Winged Divided   2 2 1 1
2-Winged Undivided   0 0 0 0
4-Winged Lapidarist   1 0 0 0
4-Winged Cursory (many; all Type 484s)   0     0
4-Winged Cursory (few; mostly pithoi)     0   0

In addition to the LMLK stamps shown below, this collection also includes these special artifacts related to the LMLK phenomenon:


  1. H2D, 3:00, SGx, 0 (ID#5; click for detailed photos):

  2. H2D, 3:00, Sxx, 0 (ID#14; click for detailed photos):

  3. H4L

  4. H4L, 7:00, ACx, 0 (ID#1; click for detailed photos):

  5. M2D

  6. M2D, 4:00, SGx, 2; 15x9mm (0.59x0.35") circles (ID#12; click for detailed photos):

  7. M2D, 10:00, SGx, 0 (ID#2; click for detailed photos):

  8. S2DW

  9. S2DW, 4:00, SGx, 0 (ID#11; click for detailed photos):

  10. x4L

  11. x4L, 11:00, AGx, 0 (ID#13; click for detailed photos):

  12. Note:  Probably an H4L; possibly a Z4L


  13. Z2D, 9:00, SGx, 0 (ID#3; click for detailed photos):

"Who among you fears the LORD?  Who obeys the voice of His servant?  Who walks in darkness, & has no light?  Let him trust in the name of the LORD, & rely upon his God."--Isaiah 50:10
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This page was created on February 19, 2005, & last updated on January 2, 2011