Lapis lazuli cylinder seal

From Mesopotamia
Early Dynastic Period, about 2600-2400 BC

This seal has a scene that shows human-headed bulls being protected from the attack of lion-headed birds by a hero and a bull-man. The human-headed bulls are probably stylized bisons. The bison was not native to Mesopotamia but was found in the Zagros Mountains to the east. As here, human-headed bulls generally appear on seals in pairs, from about the middle of the third millennium BC, where they are depicted being protected by men from the attack of other animals. However, on later seals they occasionally become opponents of humans. They disappear from seal designs completely during the early second millennium BC.

The lion-headed eagles biting the back of the human-headed bulls may represent Imdugud. On the lower register there are bulls, a goat, a stag and an eagle.

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More information


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


Length: 4.100 cm
Diameter: 2.200 cm

Museum number

ME 22962


Acquired by 1897


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