- Museum number
Cylinder seal fragment of which only about half remains (the other half has been restored with plaster); pale-blue chalcedony; horseman galloping to right and animal. The horseman wears a hood which extends in a peak over the forehead, with a neck flap, tied under chin; he is dressed in a jacket and baggy trousers, while the tip of the gorytus is seen behind the waist; he swivels round on his horse and draws his curved bow in "Parthian" shot over its haunches, and aims at a leaping lion (or lion-pawed monster) behind the horse. The horse is covered with a fairly large saddle-rug that appears to be attached by a band round the chest; it has a rather stocky, heavy body with a thick neck and the mane appears as a crest, the tail seems oddly knotted. Only the front paws of the creature (lion?) remain, and a thin line immediately above an area of chipping. Drill-holes are used to emphasize the eye and leg joints of the horse and shoes of the rider; pierced; chips at the broken side edge.
- Production date
- 5thC BC (? probably)
Diameter: 0.40 centimetres (perforation)
Diameter: 1.40 centimetres
Height: 2.60 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- Forgotten Empire catalogue entry
420 Cylinder seal in pale-blue chalcedony
Only half of the seal remains. A rider in Median dress gallops towards the right and turns back in the saddle to aim an arrow from a double-recurved bow at a leaping lion, of which only the nose and forepaws remain. This is an example of the so-called ‘Parthian shot’, first known in the Near East from eighth- or ninth-century Assyrian depictions: a skirmishing technique of the highly skilled horse-archer later made famous by the Parthians in the wars against Rome. The rider sits on a saddlecloth, with tufts along the rear edge, secured by a breaststrap.
Acquired in 1869
H 2.6 cm, Diam 1.4 cm
British Museum, ANE 89816
Merrillees 2005: no. 14
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2012 24 May-30 Sep, 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, BM, 'Forgotten Empire'
- Incomplete; less than half preserved with the rest restored with plaster; chips at the broken side edge.
- Acquisition date
- Middle East
- BM/Big number
- Registration number