A seal comprises 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. 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. Seal amulets with stylised animals have been found throughout Mesopotamia in contexts dating to the late fourth millennium BC, although stamp seals and cylinder seals were the predominant types in the ancient Near East.
Early Dynastic Mesopotamian Seal
This amuletic figure with rectangular base is made from limestone and takes the form of a standing ram. The seal features a longitudinal groove on the underside, and is pierced in the centre for suspension.
Provenance: From an important Mayfair collection; acquired before 2000.
Condition: Fine condition.