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Limestone cylinder seal

 

Height: 1.400 cm
Length: 3.700 cm

Excavated by D.G. Hogarth and C.L. Woolley (1911-14)

ME 116141

Middle East

    Limestone cylinder seal

    Hittite, 14th-13th centuries BC
    From Carchemish, south-east Anatolia (modern Turkey)

    This limestone cylinder seal was found by the excavator Leonard Woolley when he was clearing a cave under the north wall at Carchemish. The town was defended at this point by a double wall with the space between divided by cross-walls. The walls rested on top of a cliff and the cave was below the outer wall - in fact the wall had collapsed at this point because of the collapse of the cave roof near the mouth.

    Behind the inner town wall three vertical shafts cut in the rock gave access to the cave. Wall foundations showed that these had once been enclosed in a building. The cave may have served as an emergency exit only for use in times of war, and in peace time it may have been kept blocked: there was evidence that at one stage the entrance to the cave had been blocked by a wall. Inside, the cave had been artificially shaped so that the roof, floor and walls were flat.

    The cave was in use until late Roman times. This cylinder seal was found high up in the filling within it, and can be dated to the Hittite period.

    This limestone cylinder seal depicts a stag and a bull, two wedges, a sun with rays, and, above the bull, a kilted figure holding a figure-of-eight shield and grasping one of the stag's antlers. The stag may symbolize a Hittite hunting god and the bull may stand for the weather god of Hatti.

    C.L. Woolley, Carchemish II (London, The British Museum Press, 1969)

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