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cylinder seal

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Banded, pink, blue, black, pale brown, orange, white, spotted black quartz, chalcedony cylinder seal. oncave-sided with ends slightly domed. Either the lower cap covered part of the inscription (hence the higher base line in the insect panel), or the seal was cut down after the removal of the caps, thus eliminating the base-line and accounting for the slightly domed ends which are unusual for the period. A vertical row of five “insects” with their heads pointing up, and a short line at the bottom of the row; eleven lines of inscription, boldly written.An upper boundary line.
    Note that the vertical lines on either side of the design are less regular than the others, and the one to the right of the insects has been recut.


  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 1330BC-1310BC
  • Production place

  • Materials

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 46.5 millimetres
    • Diameter: 18.7 millimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Comment

        Prayer to goddess Ninsun ending with 'May joy be on him who seeks you, may his way be happy'; names owner as Uballissu, son of Warad-Ea, treasurer, servant of Kurigalzu, king of the Universe; (this was probably Kurigalzu II (1332-1308BC)).
  • Curator's comments

    The inscription names Ubalissu-Marduk, son of Arad-Ea. and another seal belonging to him is (BM 122696). The stone is spectacular in appearance, with diagonal banding of lilac, tan and some white, finely outlined in black, making the inscription difficult to see on the seal, but the column with the insects, being smoother to the touch, serves as an indicator as to where the inscription starts and ends. See also (BM 129099). Matthews (1990, p. 74 n. 213) discusses the “spiky object”, that he refers to elsewhere as a “skeletal fish”, and states that “it is unclear whether it is a vase or perhaps an insect or even a fish”. It seems very unlikely that it is a vase.


  • Bibliography

    • Gadd, CT 36 5 bibliographic details
    • Matthews, D M 1990 no. 68 bibliographic details
  • Location

    On display: G55/dc1

  • Condition

    The edges are chipped, the lower one extensively, probably indicating the forcible removal of metal (gold?) caps, possibly gold

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Acquisition notes

    Part of a larger collection, mostly seals and largely returned, which was deposited on 20 January 1920. Presented by Major Mocatta who acquired much of his material in southern Iraq

  • Department

    Middle East

  • BM/Big number


  • Registration number


Banded pink, blue, black, pale brown, orange, white and spotted black chalcedony cylinder seal in the first Kassite style; eleven lines of inscribed text and one line of five insects.


Banded pink, blue, black, pale brown, orange, white and spotted black chalcedony cylinder seal in the first Kassite style; eleven lines of inscribed text and one line of five insects.

Image description



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Object reference number: WCO23582

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