Dolomite (magnesian limestone) cylinder seal

Third Dynasty of Ur, about 2100-2000 BC
From Mesopotamia

This is a typical seal of the late third millennium BC where a worshiper stands before a standard and a god. The cuneiform inscription translates: 'From Meslamta-ea, his master; for the life of Shulgi, god of his country, king of Ur, king of the Four Parts.'

The seal was dedicated, probably in a temple, to King Shulgi (2094-2047 BC). The inscription may have been recut since it is incomplete; the name of the person making the dedication is not given and there is no mention of the making of the seal.

Shulgi is described as a god in the inscription. The idea that a king could be a god only emerged under the preceding ruling dynasty of Agade (Akkad). Under King Naram-Sin (2254-2218 BC) there was a change in royal titulary and Naram-Sin is described as divine in inscriptions. This is also seen in the way that Naram-Sin is represented on monuments: he is much taller than the other humans, and wears a horned helmet, the attribute of gods. Kings of southern Mesopotamia continued to be deified into the second millennium BC, after which they were believed to have been appointed by the gods, but not themselves divine.

Find in the collection online

More information

Bibliography

D. Collon, Catalogue of the Western Asi-1 (London, 1982)

Dimensions

Height: 4.170 inches
Diameter: 2.640 inches

Museum number

ME 116719

WCO24167

Location

Find in the collection online



Search highlights

There are over 4,000 highlight objects to explore