- Museum number
Orange-brown cornelian cylinder seal; a worshipper stands facing right before the tasselled spade of the god Marduk on a stepped stand and the wedge or stylus of the god Nabu on a square stand. Beyond, beneath a crescent and the Pleiades, Gilgamesh and Enkidu flank the fleeing Humbaba. The worshipper, Humbaba and Enkidu have a domed hairstyle, with flaring lines rising from a line over the eye, and groups of small drill-holes on the shoulder, and Humababa has additional curls on the side of his head; the beards of all the figures are executed with short straight lines, but these are arranged in tiers in the case of Humbaba. The worshipper stands with one hand raised and pointing and the other extended, palm up; he wears a long, double-belted skirt which is vertically striated at the top with a diagonal line across, below which is a broad band of dot-in-square patterning with a fringe at the hem, Gilgamesh wears a conical helmet and an open robe, bordered with a band of squares and a fringe, over a fringed kilt, and has quivers behind his shoulders; he rests one foot on Humbaba's foot, grasps his hair in his left hand and plunges his dagger into his shoulder. Humbaba and Enkidu both wear a plain-belted, short, open, dot-in-square patterned skirt, with a fringe down the front edge, over a fringed kilt. Humbaba is shown frontally from the waist up, and kneels on one knee towards the right; with his right hand he grasps Gilgamesh's ankle and his left hand is wrapped round Enkidu's waist. Enkidu wears an eight-pointed star on his chest, places his foot on Humbaba's knee, seizes him by the hair with his right hand and brandishes an axe above his own head. Line borders at top and bottom, rather poorly executed in comparison with the quality of the remainder of the scene. Between Enkidu and the worshipper is a line of inscription. Edges chipped.
- Production date
- 8thC BC(late)
Diameter: 1.30 centimetres
Height: 2.80 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- According to catalogue "this scene from the Epic of Gilgamesh is one of only two episodes which have been indentified in iconography, mostly on seals. Gilgamesh, robe and wearing a head-dress to denote his higher rank, and Enkidu are shown at the moment they kill Humbaba, the guardian of the cedar forest, whose gigantic proportions are indicated in a number of ways; falling down, bent over, with legs bent or, as here, falling on one knee. The scene has been discussed exhaustively by W.G Lambert in a well-illustrated paper. This particular version of the Death of Humbaba goes back to Old Babylonian terracottas and Mitannian seals and is also found on the Hasanlu gold bowl, on a decorated bronze beaker, on Neo-Assyrian linear-style seals and on hard-stone eighth century seals from both Assyria and Babylonia. Enkidu frequently brandishes an axe, as here, and this would be an appropriate weapon in a cedar forest ...... The unusual style is not mainline Assyrian and should probably be dated to the late eighth century, when Babylonian influence as at its height".
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2013 - 2014 22 June - 6 Jan, Toronto, Royal Ontario Museum, 'Mesopotamia, Inventing Our World'
2013: 30 Jan-13 May, Museum of History, Hong Kong, 'The Wonders of Ancient Mesopotamia'
2012: 4 May-7 Oct, Melbourne Museum, 'The Wonders of Ancient Mesopotamia'
2000, Barcelona, 'Foundation of the City'.
- Fair; edges chipped.
- Middle East
- BM/Big number
- Registration number