- Museum number
Grey-blue chalcedony cylinder seal; a bearded Atlantid figure, wearing a kilt with a fringed and patterned border, with the upper part of his body shown frontally and the lower in profile, kneels on his right knee on an elongated, cross-hatched shape and supports a crescent on his head; in the crescent is the upper part of a bearded god who wears a horizontally-ridged, cylindrical head-dress and a vertically-fringed robe, and who holds an attribute in one hand (two dots with a line between them are visible below the hand). On either side of the hero are two figures (possibly one male and one female) facing towards him, each with the nearside hand raised; that to the left has shoulder-length hair, while that on the right has slightly shorter hair and a hat with a peak at the back and a flap at the top. Both figures wear garments with patterned and fringed borders which are wrapped around the body and draped like a shawl over the near shoulder. The seal is exceptionally finely cut. Little crescentic faults in the stone (including one that looks like the forelock of the figure on the left). The seal is barrel-shaped, but the bottom was ground down perhaps as much as half a centimetre, so the feet of the figures are missing and the diametre at the bottom is larger than at the top.
- Production date
- 7thC BC-6thC BC
Diameter: 1.10 - 1.30 centimetres
Height: 2.65 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- According to the catalogue "the style of cutting points to Babylonia rather than Assyria, as does the hollow-backed stance of the figures, particularly that on the right. Whether these figures are women or eunuchs or both is not clear and the scarcity of Babylonian figural representation, other than on seals, makes the question difficult to resolve. Nor is the type of dress identifiable, though the profusion of ornate fringing would indicate a date in the seventh century when such ornament was particularly favoured, judging by depictions on the reliefs of Ashurbanipal. The head-dress of the figure on the right is distantly pararelled by that worn by Uratian ambassordors in the 'Battle of Til Tuba' reliefs in the British Museum. However the popularity of the god in a crescent in the west might indicate a western origin for the seal, perhaps in the period of Babylonian expansion in the sixth century. The Atlantid figure is probably to be seen as a link between earth and heaven with the grid pattern below him (possibly derived from the exergue on stamp seals) representing the earth. An Atlantid bull-man supporting a god in a crescent appears on an impression on a tablet from the House D archive from Carchemish; the archive belonged to the Assyrian governor and was taken over by the Egyptian governor between 610 BC and the destruction of the house in 604 BC."
- Not on display
- Good / fair; exceptionally finely cut; little crescentic faults in the stone; bottom of seal ground down so that the feet of the figures are missing.
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- The words "Spink, July 1923, £7-10-0" appear in the register entry for this object these words probably relate to the circumstances in which Spencer-Churchill acquired this object. Acquisition among other items purchased from the estate of the late Captain E.G. Spencer-Churchill noted in the 'British Museum Quarterly' 32 (1967/68), p.57.
- Middle East
- BM/Big number
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: 23 (Spencer-Churchill collection no.)