- Museum number
Steel-grey hematite cylinder seal. Two bearded gods wear headdresses with horizontal horns, square-topped on the left and crested on the right, their kilts are horizontally-striated with a long, broad fringe behind and with a dagger protruding from the belt. They raise both hands, clenched as fists, and flank two headless winged monsters, probably griffins, that are fighting over a headless animal that is falling to the ground; the griffins have tails ending in a curl. Above this scene is a winged disc. A large ankh stands in front of the god on the right. Framed above and below by horizontal garlands of eight-pointed rosettes connected by diagonal bands (a thick line between two slightly curved thin lines), between two thin horizontal lines.
- Production date
- 18thC BC
Diameter: 1.10 centimetres
Height: 2.70 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- The worn seal was recut with files of different thicknesses so the recutting affects the horizontal and diagonals lines in the design, particularly in the central combat. The griffins’ necks and heads have been changed into raised paws, so that the griffin on the left now has three forepaws. Their victim may have been looking back over its shoulder, but its head is worn, and drill holes have been added to represent blood. The bodies of the animals and the inner part of their wings and of the wings of the disc (that now impinge on the central disc) have also been recut, and are probably now shorter than they originally were. The diagonal part of the griffins’ tails, some of the wing feathers, the gods’ daggers, and parts of their arms have been recut. The horizontal lines of the horns and shoulder of the god on the right, of the gods’ kilts, the ankh and the inner line borders have all been recut, particularly untidily in the case of the base-line. Horizontal lines have been added below the fringes of the gods’ garments and the falling animal has acquired an extra hind leg. It is not clear when this recutting may have taken place. NB the unusual clenched fists of the gods seem to be part of the original cutting.
It is not clear whether the two figures on this seal are derived from Egyptianizing depictions of the pharaoh wearing the Atef-crown (which would explain the presence of the worn ankh), or, more probably because of their dress, whether they were depictions of the Syrian warrior goddess without her wings (e.g. CLS 13 BM 89707). Nor is it clear whether there was an attempt to transform the one into the other, or which came first in what was evidently an extensive process of recutting. The decorative borders are closely paralleled on a seal impression from Alalakh where they are set vertically in the space normally occupied by two lines of inscription (Collon 1975, no. 56 and cf. pl. XLIX for related designs; see also Amiet 1992, no. 44 from Ras Shamra/Ugarit).
- Not on display
- Edges chipped, especially lower edge
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Brief correspondence on owner's seal collection on acquisitions file, dated 25 August 1966. Acquisition noted in the 'British Museum Quarterly' 32 (1967/68), p.58.
Ex Col. Norman Colville Collection (in the collection of Mr Pitt in June 1934).
- Middle East
- BM/Big number
- Registration number