- Museum number
White, grey and brown banded agate cylinder-seal; two four-winged, frontal (female?) figures turn their heads towards each other (or away from each other depending on how the seal is rolled) and alternate with two quadrupeds (possibly gazelles or goats), reclining towards the left with their head turned back towards the right. The figures are punctuated by drill-holes of different sizes; two mark the shoulder-length hair and others indicate the eye, the tip of the nose, shoulders or breasts, abdomen and the heels of the out-turned feet; the legs of the figure on the left are not shown, but those of the figure on the right were cut and the knees are marked by drill-holes; they have wings of equal length, with one row of feathers, and they wear long, vertically-striated skirts with a thin line running across the figures at waist level and down each side of the skirts. The quadrupeds are blocked out and details of eye, muzzle, joints and hooves are also marked by drill-holes. Line borders at top and bottom. Edges chipped.
Diameter: 1.60 centimetres
Height: 4.20 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- According to Collon catalogue "It is suprising to find such a handsome seal-stone with such a poorly-executed design. Porada suggested that it must be provincial or a forgery, but as it has such a good pedigree, it is unlikely to be a forgery, and although the iconography is unusual, it is not implausible; the execution of the wings and animals can be paralleled within the first millennium corpus. It recalls the recut seals from the Hit and Ana district, particularly the cutting of the wings and use of the drill (note that these are also large seals, though the materials differ). The fact that in one case the whole figure was carved, with visible through the skirt, is strange. Naked, frontal female figures are attested in the first millennium but they are rare and are probably derived from second-millennium prototypes in which winged, frontal female figures were more common, schematized drilled versions are also found".
See Cullum J 'An attempt to Illustrate the British Museum' unpublished manuscript in the British Library 1834, reversed as on seal.
- Bibliographic references
Keppel 1827a / Personal narrative of travels in Babylonia, Assyria, Media, & Scythia, in the year 1824 [= A journey from India to England ... in the year 1824] (192, no.5)
Collon 2001a / Catalogue of the Western Asiatic Seals in the British Museum: Cylinder Seals V: Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian Periods (341, pl.XXVIII)
Munter F 1827 / Religion der Babylonier (pl.I:12)
Cullimore A 1842 / Oriental Cylinders, Impressions of ancient oriental cylinders, or rolling seals of the Babylonians, Assyrians, and Medo-Persians (7)
Wiseman 1959 / Cylinder Seals of Western Asia (pl.97)
Porada E 1961 / Review of D.J Wiseman "Cylinder Seals of Western Asia" (p.251)
Collon 1987a / First Impressions: Cylinder Seals in the Ancient Near East (397) (cf:)
Matthews, D M 1990 / Principals of Composition in Near Eastern Glyptic of the Later 2nd Millenium BC (429, 477 and 586) (cf:)
Porada E 1948a / Corpus of Near Eastern Studies in North American Collections I. The Pierpont Morgan Library Collection (1050-1) (cf:)
Albenda 1996 / The beardless winged genies from Northwest Palace at Nimrud (cf:)
- On display (G1/fc15/top/centre)
- Exhibition history
Enlightenment gallery, from Nov 2003
- Fair; edges chipped.
- Acquisition date
- Middle East
- BM/Big number
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: R.137