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Carnelian stamp seal


Height: 2.500 cm
Length: 1.900 cm
Width: 1.200 cm

Acquired from the John Robert Stewart Collection in 1849

ME 89888

Room 55: Mesopotamia

    Carnelian stamp seal

    Neo-Babylonian Dynasty, about 700-550 BC
    From Babylon, southern Iraq

    This pyramidal stamp seal was discovered at Babylon in the nineteenth century. On the base is a bearded hero holding a sword and an ostrich by the neck. Although they were native to the region, ostriches are a rare sight in Mesopotamian art. On one face of the seal is a seated dog, symbol of Gula, goddess of healing. The cuneiform inscription runs up one side of the seal and over the top. It translates: 'I trust in the Lady of Life; let me then live.' Seals were used to make a mark of authority or act as a signature but, as here, could also have amuletic properties.


    D. Collon, 'First catch your ostrich', Iranica Antiqua, 33 (1998)

    British Museum, A guide to the Babylonian and, 3rd ed. (London, British Museum, 1922)


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    On display: Room 55: Mesopotamia

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