Western Asiatic Haematite Cylinder Seal


A finely engraved Western Asiatic hematite cylinder seal with a horizontally engraved religious scenic design. The seal displays bearded male figure seated on a throne wearing a crown and full-length flounced robe. He holds a cup in a raised hand, facing a standing male figure of a dignitary with an abacus or frame in one hand, conversing with the ruler. Behind the ruler stands a soldier bearing a fan and staff, wearing a full-length decorated robe and helmet. Each figures face is carved with precision, as evidenced by the detailing in the figure’s facial features and hands. Between the figures contain a narrow, ovate vase laced upon a shelf. This seal has been vertically perforated, suggesting it was once worn by the owner for administrative purposes. This seal comes with a museum quality modern impression.

Measurements of seal: 3.2 cm x 1.3 cm

Measurements of impression: 5.0 cm x 2.9 cm

Date: Circa 1900 BC
Provenance: Acquired 1980-2000s. Important Collection of a London gentleman.
Condition: Excellent Condition. The seal weighs 10g alone. Total weight with impression listed below.

In stock

SKU: SM-56 Category: Tags: ,

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 17.9 g
Dimensions L 3.2 x W 1.3 cm



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