- Museum number
Grey-brown chalcedony cylinder seal (white / cream patination was probably acquired during burial); antithetical group consisting of a four-winged hero in the centre, facing right, flanked by ostriches which he grasps by the neck; beneath each ostrich are two ostrich chicks; in the upper field above the ostrich on the left, a smaller ostrich pursues a gazelle, while above the ostrich on the right is an eight-pointed, globe-centred star set in a crescent. The hero wears an oval-topped helmet with two pairs of horns, his hair falls from two short horizontal lines in a thick curl on his shoulder, and both it and the beard are depicted with lines ending in rows of small drill-holes; he is bare-chested and wears a plain-belted, short, wrap-over kilt with a curved edge and double hem which is decorated with the dot-in-square motif. All the ostriches have eyes indicated by drill-holes at the inner end of the beak, bodies depicted like bundles tied together before the flaring tail, and huge feet indicated by a mass of small drill-holes; the large birds have an additional drill-hole at the top of beak and on the leg-joints, diagonal hatching at the bottom of the neck, wings with two rows of feathers spread on either side of the neck, and they are standing on one leg and kicking out at the hero with the other; the small birds are shown striding towards the centre, one on either side of the larger birds' leg, and have only one row of feathers to their wings and only one visible wing, except the chick on the left, where two are shown. Both wings of the ostrich pursuing the gazelle are visible too, and its legs are spread very far apart, so that one leg is almost touching the fleeing gazelle's rump and perhaps kicking up at it. The gazelle is set diagonally and looks back over its shoulder at the ostrich; its horn and belly are very finely hatched and small drill-holes mark its hooves. Very slight chipping of the edges.
- Production date
- 8thC BC(late)-7thC BC(early)
Diameter: 1.40 centimetres
Height: 3 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- According to catalogue "this is an exceptionally finely-worked and carefully composed seal. The hero is deliberately achaizing, but although ostriches occur in Middle Assyrian seals, they are depicted very differently and are not part of three-figure contests. The small size and positioning of the ostrich and gazelle in the upper field must indicate distance, and this is probably an illusion to the speed of the adult bird and thus to the prowess of the divine hero who has captured to two adult birds.... The theme is common on impressions from Nineveh in late eighth-to early seventh-century styles".
- 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'
2011 28 March-26 June, Abu Dhabi, Manarat Al Saadiyat, 'Splendours of Mesopotamia'
- Good / fair; very slight chipping of the edges.
- Acquisition date
- Middle East
- BM/Big number
- Registration number