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65. Seal of Astruga

That is:

Above Women in the Tent Astruga

Be Blessed

Dimensions: ca. 11 × 25 mm. (from angled photograph).

Location: Sephardic Museum, Toledo.

Bibliography: Cantera y Burgos and Millás Vallicrosa, 1956, No. 264.

Excavations at Montjuich (“Jew mountain,” in Catalan), the hill outside Barcelona, led to the discovery of a gold ring in Tomb No. 51. The hoop of the ring ended in two lions’ heads which seemed to hold in their mouths a bracket engraved with Hebrew letters characteristic of the thirteenth or fourteenth century. The top of the inscription consisted of two Hebrew letters, abbreviations, as did the sole Hebrew letter beneath, with a proper name forming the central line. The photograph accompanying the description by Cantera y Burgos and Millás Vallicrosa is shown here. One would thus assume that the ring is still extant, but no mention is made of its present location.

The Spanish savants turned to Cecil Roth for an explanation of the abbreviation; he stated that the complete phrase is taken from Judges 5: 24 and is a eulogy for Jael, the wife of Heber (“blessed shall she be above women in the tent”); the name Astruga was substituted for hers. Possibly this was a gift by some man to his wife some seven hundred years ago. Astruga was quite a common Jewish woman’s name in Catalonia, as Cantera y Bureos and Millás Vallicrosa note.

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