Sumerian Limestone Cylinder Seal with Geometric Motifs

£ 275.00

A Sumerian cylinder seal carved from limestone from the Jemdet Nasr period. The piece is carefully incised with geometric pattern consisting of central curved lines interspersed with two dots. The scene is framed by a band of cross-hatching above and below. The seal is pierced longitudinally for suspension with the purpose of keeping the seal close to the owner so it could be used to mark documents and such.

Date: Circa 3000BC
Provenance: Ex Cotswold collection 190. A large part of the collection was sold by a Cirencester auction in November 2018.
Condition: Very fine condition, some wear from age. The seal comes with a museum quality impression.


SKU: LD-766 Category: Tags: ,

Sumer is the earliest known civilisation in the historical region of Mesopotamia, settled by humans circa 4500-4000 BC, founded in the region of the Fertile Crescent. Their control of the region lasted for around 2000 years, before the Babylonians settled in 2004 BC.

Mesopotamia was the cradle for glyptic arts. Cylinder seals, featuring zoomorphic-decorated knobs and finely engraved religious scenes, first appeared in the Uruk period (ca 3500-3000 BC). Images seen on the Old Babylonian cylinder seals bear great resemblances to the earlier prototypes of the preceding dynasties. Deities, humans, animals, plants, geometric shapes and religious iconography have all appeared on seals. Cylinder seals were used to roll authenticating seals to officiate or notarise a document, usually on wet clay. Seals were hugely important in the ancient world for administration and commerce, they allowed for official legal transactions and the establishment of efficient bureaucracy. While they were important official objects, they were also worn as jewellery and amulets, thought to be in part as a way to have the seal constantly conveniently available to its owner. Haematite was a common material for cylinder seals, along with obsidian, steatite, lapis lazuli, amethyst, and carnelian.

To find out more about cylinder seals, please see our relevant blog post: Mesopotamian cylinder seals.

Weight 1.8 g
Dimensions L 2 x W 0.9 cm



Reference: For a similar item,The British Museum, item 130621

You may also like…