Description This presentation scene depicts a seated figure, possibly a king, receiving three standing deities, including a goddess on the back of a quadruped. Two of the figures hold staffs. A disc and inverted crescent as well as a smaller seated deity are also included. The style of the figures, including the hatching on the robes, suggests an Anatolian origin, and this seal might have been part of the Old Assyrian Trading Colony. Around 20,000 clay tablets dating to the 2nd millennium BCE have been discovered at Kültepe (ancient Kanesh), Turkey, which was near Kayseri (ancient Caesarea), including Walters tablet 48.1464. Many tablets found at Kanesh are letters recording business transactions between Kanesh and Assyria in northern Mesopotamia. They were enclosed in clay envelopes and impressed with stamp or cylinder seals. 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.
- In Search of Ancient Treasure: 40 Years of Collecting. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1978.
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.
Credit Museum purchase [formerly part of the Walters Collection], 1941
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