Near Eastern Urartu Alabaster Bell-Shaped Seal


A Western Asiatic Urartu alabaster stamp seal carved into a stylised bell-shape with an incised motif on the base. The barrel-shaped body leads to a large loop, for suspension, and flares outwards at the base, which is slightly convex. The incisions on the base depict a stylised kneeling four-legged animal with curved horns, possibly an ibex, seated beneath a stylised sun.

Seal impression is for reference only.

Date: Circa 8th-7th Century BC
Provenance: Ex major SM., London Collection 1970-2010
Condition: Good condition


SKU: PP-01 Category: Tag:

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. Urartu was an Iron Age kingdom situated between Asia Minor, Mesopotamia, and the Caucasus mountains, in what was later to be known as the Armenian Highlands. The kingdom was centred around Lake Van and corresponds to the biblical Kingdom of Ararat. The Urartu kingdom was relatively small, but nevertheless it was a considerable political power in the Iron Age Near East. As a kingdom, Urartu was considerably militaristic. They frequently waged war on their neighbouring kingdoms, and even claimed to have bested their most powerful neighbour, Assyria, in battle on several occasions. They gained access to important resources such as the Aras River, and made themselves a real threat in the region.

Culturally, Urartu was heavily influenced by Assyria. This was especially true during the 9th century BC, when Assyria briefly conquered Urarat and ruled them as a colony. The people of Urarat seemed to readily absorb many aspects of Assyrian art, culture, bureaucracy, and military style. Their language is thought to have been at least partly Armenian, and the Urartu kingdom still plays a part in the national Armenian identity today. It is considered the predecessor to Armenia, and the very foundation for Armenian culture and identity.

To find out more about items like this, check out our blog post on Western Asiatic stamp seals

Weight 3.3 g
Dimensions L 1.9 x W 1.1 x H 1.2 cm



Reference: For a similar item, please see The Metropolitan Museum of Art, accession number 1980.78.5

You may also like…