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Cylinder Seal with an Animal Contest Scene and an Inscription
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Cylinder Seal with an Animal Contest Scene and an Inscription


Description Provenance Inscription Credit
Description This scene depicts a central motif of crossed lions, their heads back-to-back with an inverted crescent in the field between them. Each lion faces a strange, horned quadruped (re-cut?) that rears up on its hind legs. Behind the horned quadrupeds is a cuneiform inscription in two registers. In the field above the registers is a cross enclosed in a ring, cradled by an inverted crescent. The style of this seal's design is somewhat characteristic of the Isin-Larsa or Old Babylonian periods, however aspects of the animals and the disc and inverted crescent are more in line with seals from Anatolia. This might have been used as part of the Middle Bronze Age trade and the Old Assyrian Trading Colony Kültepe of the early second millennium BCE. 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, Akkadian] 1. {d}utu 2. dingir-a-a [https://cdli.ucla.edu/search/archival_view.php?ObjectID=P272852]
Credit Museum purchase [formerly part of the Walters Collection], 1941

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Creators
Period
ca. 2000-1750 BCE (Old Babylonian or Old Assyrian Trading Colony)
Medium
hematite
(Precious Stones & Gems)
Accession Number
42.583
Geographies
Location Within Museum
Not On View

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