The Sargon Vase

The Sargon Vase

Height: 8.500 cm
Diameter: 6.200 cm (at handles)

ME 90952

This unique glass jar was discovered in the nineteenth century by the excavator Henry Layard. Although it comes from the palace of King Ashurnasirpal II (reigned 883-859 BC), it actually dates to a later period. A cuneiform inscription on it reads: 'Palace of Sargon King of Assyria', hence its modern name. The inscription is accompanied by an engraving of a lion. The lion, often occurring with inscriptions of Sargon II (reigned 722-705 BC), is probably an official mark indicating that the article derives from or belongs to Sargon's palace or treasury.

The jar has no close parallels either in Assyria or in neighbouring areas. It may be of Phoenician origin, and the cuneiform inscription may have been added for its new Assyrian owner.

Glass vessels are known in the ancient Near East from as early as the second millennium BC. They were made by building glass up around a clay core, which was afterwards removed. By the time this jar was produced however, glass vessels were being cast, probably by the lost wax technique, and then finished by grinding and polishing.

On display: Room 55: Mesopotamia