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Cylinder Seal with a Nude Hero
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Cylinder Seal with a Nude Hero


Description Conservation Provenance Inscription Credit
Description In the Akkadian period, seal designs became more detailed. In the two scenes on this seal, a nude heroic figure with heavy beard and long curls holds off two roaring lions, and another hero struggles with a water buffalo. The inscription in the panel identifies the owner of this seal as "Ur-Inanna, the farmer." 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.
Conservation
Date Description Narrative
5/05/1970Treatmentcleaned; other
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] 1. ur-{d}Inanna engar [https://cdli.ucla.edu/search/archival_view.php?ObjectID=P272871] [Translation] a. Ur-Inanna, the farmer
Credit Museum purchase [formerly part of the Walters Collection], 1941

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Creators
Period
ca. 2334-2193 BCE (Akkadian)
Medium
carved black stone
(Precious Stones & Gems)
Accession Number
42.676
Measurements
H: 1 7/16 x Diam: 15/16 in. (3.7 x 2.4 cm)
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