Description The Kassites were a people from the northwest who installed themselves as the rulers of southern Mesopotamia, unified under the name of Babylonia. They adopted much of its culture, including the cylinder seal. Their seals tend to be tall and thin and often devote much of the surface to inscriptions of prayers. This scene depicts a standing deity with beard wearing a long, flounced robe. He holds an elongated object in his hand, and the other arm is bent with his hand resting on his midriff. There is a cross, a rhomb, and a rosette in the field in front of him, and a kneeling worshipper before him. The scene also incorporates a cuneiform inscription in seven registers. The surface of the seal is worn. Cylinder seals are cylindrical objects carved in reverse (intaglio) in order to leave raised impressions when rolled into clay. Seals were generally used to mark ownership, and they could act as official identifiers, like a signature, for individuals and institutions. A seal’s owner rolled impressions in wet clay to secure property such as baskets, letters, jars, and even rooms and buildings. This clay sealing prevented tampering because it had to be broken in order to access a safeguarded item. Cylinder seals were often made of durable material, usually stone, and most were drilled lengthwise so they could be strung and worn. A seal’s material and the images inscribed on the seal itself could be protective. The artistry and design might be appreciated and considered decorative as well. Cylinder seals were produced in the Near East beginning in the fourth millennium BCE and date to every period through the end of the first millennium BCE.
Provenance Henry Walters, Baltimore, [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; Sadie Jones (Mrs. Henry Walters), New York, 1931, by inheritance; Joseph Brummer, Paris and New York, 1941, by purchase; Walters Art Museum, 1941, by purchase.
Inscriptions [Transliteration, cuneiform] 1. x x ki x 2. x x sza x x 3. suen gesz x x 4. x x x x 5. lugal dingir ab 6. ARAD2 im-x-zu 7. ti-la-x-ga [https://cdli.ucla.edu/search/archival_view.php?ObjectID=P272874]
Credit Museum purchase [formerly part of the Walters Collection], 1941
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