Mesopotamian Limestone Bird Seal Amulet


A Mesopotamian seal amulet of a bird carved from limestone possibly from the Jemdet Nasr period. The reverse of the seal features a stylised bird of prey, likely a vulture, facing right. Anatomical features are loosely carved, such as the wing, eye and beak creating the bird image. The neck is stretched downwards as if it is searching for its prey.  The flat base displays circular etching creating a geometric design. The seal amulet has been pierced vertically for suspension.


Date: 3rd-2nd Millennium BC
Provenance: Acquired in 1970-1999. Property of a late Mayfair, London, gentleman, by descent.
Condition: Good condition, small crack to the tail.

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SKU: AG-10 Category: Tags: ,

The Jemdet Nasr Period took place in southern Mesopotamia with a great number of administrative cuneiform tablets and seals coming from this area. The stamp seal was a carved object, usually made of stone, which first appeared in the fourth millennium BC and was used to impress pictures or descriptions into soft, prepared clay. These 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.

For more about stamp seals, see our relevant blog post: Making their Mark

Weight 6.8 g
Dimensions L 2.5 x W 1.8 cm



Reference: For a similar item,The British Museum, London, item 118020orThe Metropolitan Museum, item 58.30.3

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