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Twitter User Solves Mystery Of Medieval Norfolk Seal

Twitter Followers Solve Mystery Of Medieval Norfolk Seal

Throughout the years, social media platforms have proven to be effective tools for making life easier for humans. For starters, social media platforms have improved communication. Messaging through social media is more convenient than texting. While e-mails do the same, it tends to feel too formal and professional. Also, some platforms allow calling – audio or video – no matter how far apart the caller and the callee are, without any added requirements. 

But, aside from private conversations, public discussions also happen on social media platforms. On these sites, people converse and address different topics. It could range from simple things like their hobbies to something more sensitive, like sexism. Because of this, social media platforms like Twitter are seen as spaces where the answers to the world’s current problems can be found. 

Aside from answers, talents can also be found on social media. Again, people use these platforms to express themselves, often talking about their interests, hobbies, and passion. They sometimes post images or video clips of them doing something like singing, dancing, or modeling. 

Twitter User Solves Mystery Of Medieval Norfolk Seal

Leveraging Social Media To Solve Mysteries

Each of the biggest social media platforms has more than millions of users. Therefore, we can say that they are where many talented individuals congregate. 

Again, we can find answers through social media networks. Some of the problems that need to be solved require the help of specialists and experts. However, the most complicated problems can still be a problem for them. So, additional support is greatly appreciated. 

We have established that Twitter is home to many talented users. Furthermore, it is a space where the public can contribute to something of importance. So, tweeting about the “unsolvable” problems or mysteries will never be a bad idea. 

Let us take a look at a recent happening at Norfolk to get a better look at the power of social media. 

Norfolk Seal Inscription Mystery

In August last year, a metal detectorist discovered an artifact that dates from the 13th or 14th century in Gayton. It contains a reused Roman gem carved with a picture of a man holding a spear upright. Experts were quick to identify it as a representation of the Roman god of war, Mars. However, they had trouble reading the inscription on the badly burned silver metal. 

Finds Liaison Officer Dr. Helen Greake said the inscription did not appear to show a generic motto. Therefore, they had trouble deciphering the message. So, she hoped a Latin scholar might be able to interpret it. She took it to Twitter to enlist the help of anyone who would be interested.

The help arrived, but it did not come from the people Dr. Greake expected. The one who solved the mystery was a now increasingly famous Twitter follower. The man’s name is Mr. Alex Cortez. He works as an industrial procurement specialist and just happened to have free time that morning.

Mr. Cortez apparently found the Tweet about the artifact and its undeciphered inscription. He told the BBC that he loves a good puzzle. Furthermore, he is interested in archaeology, although he never received formal education. Still, the post piqued his interest. So, Mr. Cortez immediately started looking at news sites and English archaeology sites to see if he could figure it out.

The Growth of the Now Famous Twitter Follower & Hero

After painstaking research, he found a news article about a similar piece. The article was about an exceptionally fine seal matrix found at Shropshire in 2006. It also dates to the medieval 13th century, so he drew a good parallel. The piece has an inscription that says Servite Domino in Timore, translated as ‘Serve the Lord in Fear.’ So Mr. Cortez thought – what if it is common in the 13th century to inscribe the silver with a psalm?

Mr. Cortez decided to follow his hunch. So he scrutinized the photos and went through a Latin psalter until he found a likely candidate. He suggested it could be the biblical psalm 36:27, or in modern bibles, Psalm 37. The psalm says, Declina a Malo, et fac bonum. It translates to ‘decline from evil and do good.’

Twitter User Solves Mystery Of Medieval Norfolk Seal

After consulting their resident specialist Dr. Andrew Rogerson, Dr. Greake agreed that it was, in fact, what is written in the inscription. She said she was really grateful to him for solving the mystery. Mr. Cortez returned the courtesy by replying that he was very gratified to be able to help. 

The solving of the mystery is not “life-changing” per se. But, it helps us understand the past better. That deepens our connection to the world. 


A finds liaison officer working with an industrial procurement specialist to translate an inscription on an artifact. Who would have thought that an unlikely collaboration like this would occur? Probably, no one. But thanks to Twitter, it happened. 

As mentioned above, Dr. Greake expected to have a Latin scholar help her. But instead, she got Mr. Cortez to solve the mystery for her. Mr. Cortez, on the other hand, is a man interested in archaeology but did not study it formally. 

Also, it is important to note their locations. Dr. Graeke is in Norfolk, a country in East Anglia in England. Meanwhile, Mr. Alex Cortez lives in   Alameda, California, 5,290 miles away from her.

Without Twitter, their routes would have never met that day. Because it exists, Dr. Greake found her answer, while Mr. Cortez got to explore his interest in archaeology. 

What can we draw from that? It is that social media platforms can really be used for collaborative efforts. Furthermore, it highlights their power to unite people. 

Twitter User Solves Mystery Of Medieval Norfolk Seal

Moreover, stories like this could inspire people. He is not a professional, says Mr. Cortez. So he hopes his story could show that anyone with keen interest can contribute something to history. As long as they have the willingness to do the work, they should be able to do so. By utilizing social media as he did, they could achieve more than what he accomplished. It is empowering.

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Published on: 28 July 2021
Posted by: Joy P
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