Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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Cylinder seal and modern impression: suppliant goddess

Period:
late Old Babylonian–early Kassite
Date:
ca. 17th–16th century B.C.
Geography:
Mesopotamia, said to be from Dilbat
Culture:
Babylonian or Kassite
Medium:
Carnelian
Dimensions:
0.87 in. (2.21 cm)
Classification:
Stone-Cylinder Seals-Inscribed
Credit Line:
Gift of Georg Hahn, 1947
Accession Number:
47.115.3
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 406
Although engraved stones had been used as early as the seventh millennium B.C. to stamp impressions in clay, the invention in the fourth millennium B.C. of carved cylinders that could be rolled over clay allowed the development of more complex seal designs. These cylinder seals, first used in Mesopotamia, served as a mark of ownership or identification. Seals were either impressed on lumps of clay that were used to close jars, doors, and baskets, or they were rolled onto clay tablets that recorded information about commercial or legal transactions. The seals were often made of precious stones. Protective properties may have been ascribed to both the material itself and the carved designs. Seals are important to the study of ancient Near Eastern art because many examples survive from every period and can, therefore, help to define chronological phases. Often preserving imagery no longer extant in any other medium, they serve as a visual chronicle of style and iconography.


The modern impression of the seal is shown so that the entire design can be seen. This seal shows a suppliant goddess with raised hands, wearing a horned headdress and long robe, facing a four-lined cuneiform inscription in Akkadian: "Kalpanitum, merciful lady Lamaṣani, female servant of…"
Ca. 1911, known and possibly purchased by Ernst Herzfeld, near Tell al-Deylam (ancient Dilbat); by 1914, collection of Georg Hahn, Berlin; acquired by the Museum in 1947, gift of Georg Hahn.
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