A seal comprises of a design carved onto a hard material: although most often made of stone, there are also examples rendered in bone, ivory, faience, glass, metal, wood, and even sun-dried or baked clay. Both the material and the scene carved on the seal might have been ascribed with protective qualities. In the ancient world, seals guaranteed the authenticity of marked ownership – as such, they were instrumental in legal transactions, and in the protection of goods against theft. Mesopotamia has been regarded as the cradle of ancient glyphic arts, with the earliest cylinder seals proven to have been firstly executed during the Bronze Age, circa 4th Millennium BC. Each following period in ancient Mesopotamian history contributed in developing styles and techniques of glyphic arts, making seals important in determining chronological phases by providing a visual chronical of style and iconography.
Ea, or Enki in Sumerian culture, is the Mesopotamian god of wisdom, magic and incantations who resided in the ocean under the Earth, called the Abzu. He is one of the three most powerful gods in the Mesopotamian pantheon, along with Anu and Enlil. In the Babylonian flood myth, the highest god, Enlil, attempted to destroy humanity with a flood because the humans produced never-ending noise which disturbed his sleep. Ea, who created humans out of clay and divine blood, protected them from the destruction by instructing a sage to build an ark for all mankind.
For more about stamp seals, see our relevant blog post: Making their Mark: A Concise Guide to Western Asiatic Stamp Seals