Old Babylonian Cylinder Seal of Warrior King and Goddess Ninshubur


A finely engraved Old Babylonian haematite cylinder seal featuring a presentation scene. The seal has been pierced vertically for suspension. To the centre, under a crescent sun disc, is a bearded warrior king. He wears a rounded cap and is carrying a mace. The king is depicted standing, in a commanding gesture facing a goddess, likely Ninshubur. She is displayed wearing a full-length garment and a typical conical headdress with tiered decoration, which signifies divinity. The goddess has her hand raised in supplication. Behind Ninshubur is a nude fertility goddess with clasped hands and a bow-legged dwarf underneath. Behind the king are three columns of cuneiform inscriptions, neatly arranged. They read:





Translated as:

Ili-sukkal, ….goddess Ninshubur, the servant of the goddess Ninsshubur

From the text we can clearly identify the goddess as Ninshubur. The term ‘ili’ referring to the deity, along with her role as ‘sukkal’.

Date: Circa 2000-1800 BC
Condition: Very fine condition.

In stock

Ninshubur was a Mesopotamian goddess, whose chief role was that of divine attendant to the goddess Inanna. She is often depicted on glyphic scenes with her arms raised, in supplication before another deity or kingly figure. This composition, of either a suppliant goddess leading or following a young male worshipper in front of a seated king, is a common religious scene seen on Old Babylonian cylinder seals. The dress attire of these figures also demonstrates iconic representations of this culture. Ninshubur was associated, through her role as an attendant, with the Lamma, a group of intercessory goddesses who mediated between worshippers and higher-ranking deities. Her role, as a ‘sukkal’, attendant, of the goddess Inanna was recorded through texts and hymns, confirming her importance. She is often regarded by Assiriologysts as the earliest and foremost important ‘sukkal’.

To find out more about cylinder seals, please see our relevant blog post: Mesopotamian Cylinder Seals—Exploring Glyptic Images.

Weight 11.21 g
Dimensions L 2.6 x W 1.2 cm

Semi-Precious Stones


Reference: For similar: The British Museum, London, item 102042

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