- Museum number
Grey-blue chalcedony cylinder seal; horseman facing right, lion and inscription. The horseman does not appear to be bearded, and on his head he wears a high, slightly curved hat, peaked at the front with a tie or flap hanging behind; it is not entirely clear, but if the rider is not bare-chested, he may be wearing a tight fitting tunic with border round the neck, and a belt, possibly attached to his baggy breeches; his breeches and leggings or soft boots are marked by diagonal folds; a scabbard secured by a cord round his shoulder, swings at his waist; he is seemngly riding bareback, holds the reins close to the neck of the horse and hurls a spear at a rampant, snarling lion. The horse has a slender frame with elongated neck, full mane and pointed ears with a short forelock between, the tail tied round spirally at the upper end hangs loose from a right-angled curve, a faint line possibly marks the penis, two tassels hang under the belly of the animal, maybe indicating some form of horse-covering. The horse leaps forward with its forelegs raised but angled slightly downwards. The lion, with forelegs extended and claws spread, is depicted with open jaws showing fangs and tongue, the mane in ill-defined, with a few oblique strokes along the ridge of the neck, but the musculature is strongly modelled, the long tufted tail curls round, and the hind legs end in two abbreviated strokes for the claws; six-line inscription inserted to the side of the design, with single lines separated by horizontal strokes; chipped along the edges.
- Production date
- 8thC BC-7thC BC
Diameter: 0.40 centimetres (perforation)
Diameter: 1.40 centimetres
Length: 3.50 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- Previously labelled as Achaemenid in Iranian Room (July 1975). According to Merrillees catalogue "Professor Rudiger Schmitt (personal communication) comments 'it is surprising that before pir in line three, the usual vertical wedge (v) marking personal names is missing. Both names have an Iranian look and may well be interpreted thus. The -na at the end is the usual genitive ending in Achaemenid Elamite. These names cannot be supported by any other evidence, as far as I know.'" The same sources also states "the famous Persepolis Fortification impression. PFS 93, of an heirloom seal naming Cyrus son of Teispes has been dated towards the end of the seventh century. A similar scene, possibly the similar headgear, appears on another heirloom seal."
- Bibliographic references
Merrillees 2005 / Catalogue of the Western Asiatic seals in the British Museum: Pre-Achaemenid and Achaemenid periods (4)
Cullimore A 1842 / Oriental Cylinders, Impressions of ancient oriental cylinders, or rolling seals of the Babylonians, Assyrians, and Medo-Persians (61)
Lajard F 1847 / Introduction a l'etude du culte public et des mysteres de Mithra en Orient et en Occident (pl.XXV:7)
Menant J 1886 / Recherches sur la glyptique orientale II (p.153, fig.137)
Ward W H 1910 / The Seal Cylinders of Western Asia (pp.331-2, no.1076)
Weber O 1920 / Altorientalische Siegelbilder (507)
Pope 1938 / Survey of Persian Art (vol I, pp.384, 386, 389, 935 and vol IV, pl.124C)
Wiseman 1959 / Cylinder Seals of Western Asia (107)
Unger E 1966a / OAW (pp.57, 60, 66)
Collon 1987a / First Impressions: Cylinder Seals in the Ancient Near East (412)
Schmidt EF 1957a / Persepolis II: Contents of the Treasury and Other Discoveries (pls.5:12 and 10:33-34)
Curtis & Tallis 2005 / Forgotten Empire: The world of Ancient Persia (cat. 286)
Curtis & Tallis 2012 / The Horse from Arabia to Ascot (108)
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2012 24 May-30 Sep, London, BM, 'The horse: from Arabia to Royal Ascot'
2010 29 May-15 Oct, USA, Kentucky Horse Park, 'A Gift from the Desert'
2006 7 Mar-11 Jun, Barcelona, Fundacion La Caixa, 'L'imperi Oblidat'
2005-2006 Sept-Jan, London, BM, 'Forgotten Empire'
1995-2005 17 Nov-Sept, BM, G52/IRAN/5.
1994 16 Jun-23 Dec, BM, G49/IRAN, case 5.
1975-1990 Jul-end, BM, Iranian Room [IR] case ?, no. 10.
- Fair; chipped along the edges.
- Acquisition date
- Middle East
- BM/Big number
- Registration number