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Cylinder Seal with a Presentation Scene and an Inscription
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Cylinder Seal with a Presentation Scene and an Inscription


Description Provenance Inscription Credit
Description The scene on this seal features a bearded, standing deity in a horned crown, and a short tunic covered by long robe, with one leg on a footrest, possibly representing the god Shamash with his foot on a mountain. There is a standing figure with raised arms before this deity, and this second figure is slightly shorter, with one malformed, disproportionately large hand. Behind this figure is a third, smaller figure in a short tunic. The legs of this third, shorter figure are very muscular and his legs and tunic are rendered in extraordinarily fine detail. Additionally, this third figure holds an unrecognizable object in his hands. The faces of all three figures are very sharply rendered. Also incorporated into the scene is a cuneiform inscription in three registers. 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}nam-bi zi-a 2. ur-sag ki asz-sza 3. sag-kal zi nu-gi4 [https://cdli.ucla.edu/search/archival_view.php?ObjectID=P272841]
Credit Museum purchase [formerly part of the Walters Collection], 1941

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Creators
Period
20th-12th century BCE (Old Babylonian or Middle Babylonian)
Medium
hematite
(Precious Stones & Gems)
Accession Number
42.710
Measurements
H: 1 1/8 x Diam: 7/16 in. (2.8 x 1.2 cm)
Geographies
Location Within Museum
Not On View

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