Cylinder seal, North Syrian Style

Production date
Circa 1750 BCE
Country
Syria
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Object detail

Description
Cylinder Seal, North-Syrian style. This cylinder seal depicts a ritual scene, depicting two men in half kneeling positions, each clasping an entwined snake, while a diety or worshipper looks on. A receptacle resembling a fish like form, and a hovering bird with a hooked beak and bifurcated tail is placed above a vertical scorpion with clawed antennae reaching upwards. The entwined snakes are unusual. This seal may belong to a group of seals which may have been made in workshops in northern Syria in the mid-18th century BCE. (Information from Helen Merilees Seals in Australian Collections, 2nd Ed).
Classification
CH classification ARCHAEOLOGY Babylonian
Production date
Circa 1750 BCE
Production place
Measurements
L18mm x W9mm x D9mm
Media/Materials description
Haematite
History and use
Seals are at once both incredibly enigmatic and personal. These small, extremely well crafted items originated in Ancient Mesopotamia, and were an essential part of daily life, used by everyone - for legitimizing or authenticating transactions, preventing or restricting access to containers, rooms, houses, worn as amulets, and as a marker of personal identity or profession. The seals’ motif made clear the identity of the user - and once the seal was rolled onto moist clay this provided an official personally binding signature.

This cylinder seal depicts a ritual scene, depicting two men in half kneeling positions, each clasping an entwined snake, while a diety or worshipper looks on. A receptacle resembling a fish like form, and a hovering bird with a hooked beak and bifurcated tail is placed above a vertical scorpion with clawed antennae reaching upwards. The entwined snakes are unusual.

The style, and similarity to other cylinder seals, suggests this object was possibly made in a workshop in Northern Syria - the area encompassing Aleppo, Ras Sharmra and Ebla - in the mid-18th C BCE. These seals are usually made of haematite, as were most seals of this period from Syria and Mesopotamia. [Merrillees 1990:145]
Associated person
Registration number
H19446

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