This bronze seal dates to the Goryeo (Koryŏ) Dynasty, between AD 918 and 1392. The Dynasty reigned over territories now belonging to North and South Korea and oversaw numerous social, political, and artistic changes. Under the fourth ruler, the state implemented a new administrative system in which civil service exams and education were used to select government officials. Bronze seals were used to mark official documents and often took the form of animals, though it is not clear what animal is represented here. We have not been able to identify the character on the seal, which predates the creation of the Korean alphabet in the mid-15th century.
Colonel John R. Fox, an American military officer posted in Korea, added the seal to the Museum’s collections in 1965. Fox divided his large collection of Korean artifacts among eight institutions around the country, where he felt the pieces would have the greatest educational value. The UMMAA Fox collection also includes Korean ceramics, as well as bronze and wooden objects.
In honor of the University of Michigan’s 2017 bicentennial, we are celebrating the remarkable archaeological and ethnographic collections and rich legacy of research and teaching at the Museum of Anthropological Archaeology by posting one entry a day for 200 days. The entries will highlight objects from the collections, museum personalities, and UMMAA expeditions. The Kelsey Museum of Archaeology is also posting each day for 200 days on Twitter and Facebook (follow along at #KMA200). After the last post, an exhibition on two centuries of archaeology at U-M opens at the Kelsey. Visit the exhibit—a joint project of the UMMAA and the Kelsey—from October 18, 2017 to May 27, 2018.