Height: 3.300 cm
Length: 2.400 cm
Width: 1.700 cm
Room 55: Mesopotamia
Chalcedony stamp seal
Neo-Babylonian, about 700-550 BC
This pyramidal stamp seal depicts on its base a scene of a worshipper before an altar with the symbols of the gods Marduk and Nabu. Marduk was the patron deity of Babylon and his symbol is a triangular spade or hoe, the marru, which may reflect his origin as an agricultural deity. From around 1000 BC it was believed that Marduk's son was Nabu, god of writing, whose cult centre was at Borsippa near Babylon. Nabu's symbol is either a wedge, or as here, perhaps a writing stylus set. On the sides of the seal are two protective deities which are also depicted, on a monumental scale, on Assyrian reliefs from Nineveh.
Seals were used to make a mark of authority or act as a signature but, probably as here, could also have amuletic properties.