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cylinder seal

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    138136

  • Description

    Fired clay cylinder seal with brown fabric and surfaces; frog-like figure with symbols and plants, walking right with long hair and raised forearm, the right arm hanging down behind and slightly outwards and thin curved legs with feet to left, one placed on a small recumbent goat; triangular basket (?) or shield touches the right arm, and various other plant-like objects are arranged beside the figure, including one shaped like the Spade of Marduk, a crescent above, and several squiggles (perhaps a scorpion), a fish and bird; poor condition with scratched and chipped surface, especially along the edges; lightly polished surfaces.

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  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 4thC BC(early)
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 2.6 centimetres
    • Diameter: 1.45 centimetres
    • Diameter: 0.2 centimetres (of perforation)
    • Weight: 6.5 grammes
  • Curator's comments

    Found with 1882,1220.24-43; part of a "hacksilber" hoard. According to Merrillees catalogue "the seal's context provides a "terminus ante quem" for its manufacture. Reade identifies this cylinder as an amulet rather than a seal, and sees the figure as human, throwing a net or rope over a fish, but this is hard to discern. Given its nondescript material and engraving, it is difficult to consider it an heirloom, but if it was deliberately part of the hoard, and not just a coincidental loss, it must have been of some value to the hoard's owner. Clay seals tend to be of crude design and technique and can be difficult to interpret and date; they have been discussed by al-Gailani-Werr. On the other hand, finding an amulet with a hoard of recycled precious metal is not surprising if the aspiration was to offer protection against theft. Merrilees also groups this object with seals of Neo-Elamite IIb or Proto-Achaemenid periods.

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  • Bibliography

    • Merrillees 2005 82 bibliographic details
    • Reade 1986b p.83, pl.IVh bibliographic details
    • Al-Gailani Werr 1988a pp.1, 5, n.3 bibliographic details
  • Location

    On display: G52/dc3

  • Exhibition history

    Exhibited:

    2006 13 Apr-Dec, BM, G2/170.

    1995-2005 17 Nov-Aug, BM, G52/IRAN/8/24.

    1994 16 Jun-23 Dec, BM, G49/IRAN/8/6.

  • Condition

    Poor; scratched and chipped surface, especially along edges.

  • Subjects

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1882 (July)

  • Department

    Middle East

  • BM/Big number

    138136

  • Registration number

    1882,1220.41

  • Additional IDs

    • N.H. 71 (exhibition number (yellow label))
Ceramic (earthenware) cylinder seal with unglazed, brown body; figure with symbols and plants. A frog-like figure has a forearm raised, the other arm hanging down and slightly outwards and thin curved legs with feet to left, one placed on a small recumben

Ceramic (earthenware) cylinder seal with unglazed, brown body; figure with symbols and plants. A frog-like figure has a forearm raised, the other arm hanging down and slightly outwards and thin curved legs with feet to left, one placed on a small recumben

Image description

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Object reference number: WCO25479

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