Stamp seal and modern impression: horned animal and bird
6th–5th millennium B.C.
Syria or Anatolia
Steatite or chlorite
0.2 x 0.8 x 0.84 in. (0.51 x 2.03 x 2.13 cm)
Bequest of Lester Wolfe, 1983
Not on view
The impressing of carved stones into clay to seal containers had a long tradition in Mesopotamia, with the earliest evidence found in Syria dating to the seventh millennium B.C. During the Ubaid period, the variety of designs carved on seals expanded from simple geometric forms to include animals with humans, snakes, and birds. Seals like this one with deeply carved animal motifs became characteristic of northern Syria and southeastern Anatolia. It is decorated with a four-legged horned animal. Above the animal is a leaf shape, possibly a stylized bird, while two bent lines under its body may represent vegetation or perhaps snakes.
Formerly collection of Lester Wolfe, New York (until d. 1983); from 1968, on loan to the Museum by Lester Wolfe (L.68.169.13); acquired by the Museum in 1983, bequest of Lester Wolfe.
Annual Report of the Trustees of the Metropolitan Museum of Art 114 (Jul. 1, 1983 - Jun. 30, 1984), p. 19.