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pin / cylinder seal

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    108717

  • Description

    Glass cylinder seal; probably brown originally, now amber and translucent; crowned figure in heraldic combat with confronting animals, ancillary animal and symbols. The figure stands facing left with torso presented frontally; his facial features are not clearly discernible, but he appears to be wearing a dentate crown and the existing upper part shows that he is dressed in the Persian robe; his arms are outstretched over the heads of rampant snarling lions; most of the animal to the right exists but only the curled tail of the left lion remains. Above each arm of the personage is placed a star or rosette and to the side is a palm-tree, of which some fronds, one date bunch and a small section of the trunk remain, and against which rests the upper half of a small goat; the poor condition of the seal allows only an approximate description; the seal survives in a fragmentary state together with a silver pin and cap; broken into numerous fragments with a large part missing.

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  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 500BC (circa)
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 3.1 centimetres
    • Diameter: 1.25 centimetres
  • Curator's comments

    According to catalogue "most of the cylinders at Deve Huyuk were found in the earlier cremation cemetery, dated mainly to the eighth century, and the two Achaemenid cylinders of glass in the inhumation cemetery are somewhat of an exception. As Moorey notes, this is in keeping with the trend in the Near East towards replacing cylinder seals with metal finger-rings and stamp seals, the latter were made of glass, especially in the Levant. In this case it suggests that the cylinders were of local manufacture and probably deposited at an early state in the history of the cemetery c.480 BC, but they were probably made around 500 BC. Both seal designs are of the standard 'Master of the Beasts' type". On this seal "however the protagonist, instead of seizing the horns, forelegs or throats of the combatants, grasps the forelocks on the heads of the animals; a star or rosette is placed above each extended arm. A similar gesture is seen on two stamp impressions of the mid-fifth century from Nippur and Ur, and on one cylinder seal impression from the Persepolis Treasury (492-458 BC).

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  • Bibliography

    • Merrillees 2005 43 bibliographic details
    • Moorey, P R S 1980 459, pp.107, 110, 161-2, fig.18 bibliographic details
    • Legrain & Woolley 1951a 757 (cf:) bibliographic details
    • Legrain L 1925 907 (cf:) bibliographic details
    • Barag 1985a 92; p.83, fig.7 (scale applies to cap & pin only) bibliographic details
    • Merrillees 2005 Chapter VI.2.11 (material) bibliographic details
    • Schmidt EF 1957a pl.5:12 (cf.) bibliographic details
    • Moorey, P R S 1980 pp.4,7-8, 105 (dating of cemetery) bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display

  • Condition

    Poor; incomplete; broken into numerous fragments with a large part missing.

  • Subjects

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1913

  • Department

    Middle East

  • BM/Big number

    108717

  • Registration number

    1913,1108.64

Glass cylinder seal; probably brown originally, now amber and translucent; crowned figure in heraldic combat with confronting animals, ancillary animal and symbols. The figure stands facing left with torso presented frontally; his facial features are not clearly discernible, but he appears to be wearing a dentate crown and the existing upper part shows that he is dressed in the Persian robe; his arms are outstretched over the heads of rampant snarling lions; most of the animal to the right exists but only the curled tail of the left lion remains. Above each arm of the personage is placed a star or rosette and to the side is a palm-tree, of which some fronds, one date bunch and a small section of the trunk remain, and against which rests the upper half of a small goat; the poor condition of the seal allows only an approximate description; the seal survives in a fragmentary state together with a silver pin and cap; broken into numerous fragments with a large part missing.

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Object reference number: WCO120537

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