Uruk Cylinder Seal with Ram Shaped Finial


A finely carved Uruk calcite cylinder seal, featuring a finial naturalistically engraved as a recumbent ram, a characteristic of glyphic from the Uruk period. Geometric motifs are clearly carved on the sides, composed of circles and inverted triangles decorated with short incised lines. Probably imitating the patterns of a priest’s knitted skirt which frequently appeared on contemporary cylinder seals. Geometric carvings also feature on the bottom of the seal.

This cylinder seal is horizontally perforated, suggesting it was used to roll over the clay to impress images. The ram-shaped finial also features a small perforation for suspension, suggesting it might have been worn as a personal ornament.

Date: Circa 3200-3000BC
Period: The Uruk Period
Condition: Excellent condition. Hole pierced to the bottom is partial blocked.


Despite the Uruk period being one of the initial phases of Mesopotamian Civilisation, the earliest cylinder seals excavated from the Uruk site (an important archaeological site of Ancient Mesopotamia, dating to the early Bronze Age) present unparalleled craftsmanship in engraving skills. Furthermore, the neat arrangement of geometric patterns and images of this period were not surpassed by artists in subsequent periods. Seals featuring a cylindrical body engraved with well-balanced, symmetrical images and a finial sculpted in either a squatting or a recumbent quadruped, were common styles of the Uruk period. Most of the Uruk cylinder seals bear highly defined images of sheep, barley and priests dressed in skirts with knitted patterns. They reflected the flourish of Dumuzid’s cult since plants and herds are Dumuid’s typical symbols within Mesopotamian religion. This cylinder seal might have been associated with the worship of the God Dumuzid (a deity associated with shepherds and fertility )as the ram-shaped finial and the geometric patterns indicate a close connection with his appearances.

Weight 0.31 g
Dimensions W 1.5 x H 3.4 cm