- Museum number
Cylinder seal; grey banded chalcedony, streaked black and brown; two confronting soldiers, and ancillary symbols. The warrior facing right is Median, has a beard indicated by three lines, his head covered by a close-fitting hood tied under the chin and he wears Median-style garments consisting of long-sleeved, thigh-length tunic, patterned with double vertical stripes and double hem, plain trousers and shoes; the upper part of the tunic is covered with a stiff corselet (leather armour?), which is fringed and extends upwards to protect the back of the neck; in the back of his corselet he carries an axe and he strikes at his passive Greek hoplite opponent with a spear with a spherical butt. The hoplite has a similar but more pointed beard and his hair in a page-boy style at the back of his neck; over it he wears a close-fitting crested Attic helmet; the upper part of his body is covered by his round, rimmed, hoplite shield, with the 'pleated skirt' beneath it possibly representing the lower leather flaps (pteruges) of his corselet; greaves are shown; behind his shield he carries two crossed spears, their heads pointing up and their spherical butts down. The two figures stand on a ground line and the winged disc (damaged along the tip) hovers above, its long wings and tail each with a central ridge, and feathers singled out along the lower edges, splaying out at the tips of the wings. Only half the available space is engraved, and although the scene appears complete in itself, the free space may have been left for an inscription; longtudinal fractures appear to have been caused by the corrosion and expansion of the iron pin preserved in the perforation. Both of the edges are worn and chipped, obliterating a small part of the engraving.
- Production date
- 6thC BC-4thC BC
Diameter: 0.50 centimetres (perforation)
Diameter: 1.75 centimetres
Height: 3.30 centimetres
Weight: 19 grammes
- Curator's comments
- According to Merrillees catalogue "a 'burnt' chalcedony cylinder, said to have come from Kerch, South Russia, shows a crowned Persian-robed warrior with a bow and arrow fighting another hoplite in a crested helmet with greaves clearly visible, whose action with a spear is somewhat more lively; between them lies the body of a Greek. A stamp impression from Nippur of the mid-fifth century has a scene similar to that of the Kerch cylinder, but with the addition of two Aramaic letters. Two impressions from the Persepolis Treasury show similar scenes, the first with captive Greek soldiers wearing helmets, not unlike those on" this seal, "and the second with a Median-type warrior an indentical hood and 'leather' corselet with an axe inserted into it, aiming a spear at an opponent who seems to be naked and holding a similar Greek round shield".
- On display (G52/dc3)
- Exhibition history
2013 22 Mar-3 Nov, Lokschuppen Rosenheim, Alexander the Great
2006 7 Mar-11 Jun, Barcelona, Fundacion La Caixa, 'L'imperi Oblidat'
2005-2006 Sept-Jan, London, BM, 'Forgotten Empire'
- Fair / poor; complete; fine vertical fissures running through the object; surfaces discoloured; perforation blocked; edges chipped and worn.
- Acquisition date
- 1859 (9th February)
- Acquisition notes
- According to Merrillees catalogue "Acquired from Sotheby sale of the Hertz collection, which at the time was in the possession of J.Mayer via G. Eastwood. This was Lot 407.
- Middle East
- BM/Big number
- Registration number