Green sparry calcite seal

From Ur, southern Iraq
Early Dynastic period, about 2600 BC

Found in one of the graves in the royal cemetery at Ur (PG1774)

During the first half of the third millennium BC a new range of seal designs emerged in southern Mesopotamia. They can be divided into two main types: the combat scene (as seen on an shell cylinder seal also in The British Museum) and the banquet scene, as represented here. Banquets were clearly an important part of life for some people and appear not only on cylinder seals but also on more ornate objects like the Standard of Ur. The image may have had a religious significance since the figures wear fleece garments like those worn by some votive figures and have their heads shaved like priests.

The banquets depicted takes different forms. In some the figures drink through tubes from a large vessel, while in others they drink from cups or eat from a table. This last form is mostly found in the north-west.

Many seals with banquet scenes are found in tombs belonging to women. It is possible that the two types of seal design reflect a division between the sexes: men having seals showing combat scenes.

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More information

Bibliography

D.J. Wiseman, Catalogue of the Western Asiat (London, 1962)

C.L. Woolley and others, Ur Excavations, vol. II: The R (London, The British Museum Press, 1934)

Dimensions

Height: 3.600 cm
Diameter: 1.700 cm

Museum number

ME 122830

WCO24649

Excavated by Sir Leonard Woolley

Location

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