Byzantine and Russian icons, £15.99
Length: 2.100 cm
Width: 1.400 cm
Height: 2.100 cm
Room 54: Anatolia and Urartu
Early Colony Period, 1920-1800
From central Anatolia (modern Turkey)
This brown stone seal has a base shaped like a lion's paw, while the handle is in the form of a small horned animal with eyes inlaid with lapis lazuli. The design on the base is a pattern of animal and bird heads.
The seal dates to a period when there was extensive trade throughout Anatolia. We have good evidence for this. Around 1920 BC, merchants from the city of Ashur on the river Tigris established a trading colony, or karum, at the foot of the huge city mound of Kültepe in central Anatolia. Cuneiform tablets written by these merchants illuminate the political and social situation in the region. Tin and textiles were carried on donkeys from Ashur through the mountains into Anatolia where taxes were paid to the local princes and everything (including the donkeys it seems) was exchanged for local gold and silver.
Although many impressions of cylinder seals of Anatolian type are known, few seals have survived. Stamp seals were the type of seal most used by the local population; these were often hammer-headed. They also, however, adopted the cylinder seal used by the Assyrians but cut them in their own style.
D. Collon, Ancient Near Eastern art (London, The British Museum Press, 1995)