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Hematite cylinder seal


Length: 2.450 cm
Diameter: 1.400 cm

Acquired by 1899

ME 86267

Room 56: Mesopotamia

    Hematite cylinder seal

    Old Babylonian Dynasty, around 1800 BC
    Possibly from Sippar, southern Iraq

    The design of this cylinder seal shows a combat scene which is typical of this period and is a return to prototypes of the mid-third millennium BC. By the middle of the nineteenth century BC, Sippar had at least one workshop producing seals combining combat scenes with deities, and later it was producing some of the finest Old Babylonian seals; it is possible that this seal came from one of these workshops. The style suggests that it may have been made in the reign of King Sin-muballit (about 1812-1793 BC).

    Two male figures are shown in conflict with a bull-man and an inverted lion. There is also a large figure of a warrior goddess with her foot on a lion and weapons rising from her shoulders. She is probably Ishtar, goddess of sexuality and warfare, and one of the most important Mesopotamian deities. There are also numerous 'filler' motifs, whose meaning is not clear.

    D. Collon, First impressions: cylinder se (London, The British Museum Press, 1987)

    D. Collon, Catalogue of the Western Asi-2 (London, 1986)