AskDefine | Define sphragistics

User Contributed Dictionary



From Greek sphragis (seal).


  1. The study of seals, especially those attached to documents.

Usage notes

The synonym sigillography is more commonly used.



Extensive Definition

Sigillography (sometimes referred to under its Greek name of Sphragistics) is one of the auxiliary sciences of history. It refers to the study of seals attached to documents as a source of historical information. It concentrates on the legal and social meaning of seals, as well as evolution of their look. As such, it is closely related to heraldry.
It was first used as a separate science in the works of Jean Mabillon in late 17th century and by Johann Michael Heineccius soon afterwards. Initially thought as a branch of diplomatics, it gradually became an independent branch of historical studies. In second half of 19th century sigillography was further developed by German and French historians, among them Hermann Grotefend, Otto Posse, Louis-Claude Douet d'Arcq and Germain Demay.
Sigillography is also a subdiscipline of Byzantine Studies, involving the study of Byzantine lead seal impressions and the text and images thereon.
One of Herge's Tintin adventures, "King Ottokar's Sceptre" features sigillography in its plot.

External links

  • (database of Byzantine Seal impressions from ''Prosopography of the Byzantine World project (PBW)
sphragistics in Bulgarian: Сфрагистика
sphragistics in Catalan: Sigil·lografia
sphragistics in Czech: Sfragistika
sphragistics in Danish: Sfragistik
sphragistics in German: Sphragistik
sphragistics in Estonian: Sfragistika
sphragistics in Spanish: Sigilografía
sphragistics in French: Sigillographie
sphragistics in Croatian: Pečatoslovlje
sphragistics in Italian: Sfragistica
sphragistics in Latvian: Sfragistika
sphragistics in Polish: Sfragistyka
sphragistics in Portuguese: Sigilografia
sphragistics in Russian: Сфрагистика
sphragistics in Slovak: Sfragistika
sphragistics in Slovenian: Sfragistika
sphragistics in Finnish: Sigillografia
sphragistics in Swedish: Sfragistik
sphragistics in Ukrainian: Сфрагістика
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