Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Seal amulet in the form of a seated female and modern impression

Late Uruk–Jemdet Nasr
ca. 3300–2900 B.C.
Southern Mesopotamia
5/8 x 7/8 x 1 1/8 in. (1.5 x 2.3 x 3 cm)
Stone-Stamp Seals
Credit Line:
Gift of Martin and Sarah Cherkasky, 1988
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 402
This tiny but finely carved seal amulet is in the shape of a squatting female wearing a diadem. The single row of small cavities on the diadem, as well as those on her breasts and in her eye, were probably filled with inlay. Her head is shown in profile with a prominent nose. One visible arm rests on her torso, with her hand on a folded knee, while the other knee is held up. Similar squatting figures are known both on cylinder seals from Iran, Mesopotamia, and Syria and as small sculpture in the round from the Iranian site of Susa. Dating from the end of the late fourth into the early third millennium B.C., such depictions are today known as "pig-tailed women" and, although many appear to be engaged in pottery or textile manufacture, they may also have had some religious meaning, perhaps depicting a gesture of worship. The other side of the amulet may have been used as a seal to make an impression in damp clay. It is flat with eight groups of drill holes that possibly represent schematic dogs.
From 1983, on loan to the Museum by Martin and Sarah Cherkasky, New York (L.1983.125.5); acquired by the Museum in 1988, gift of Martin and Sarah Cherkasky, New York.

“Ancient Art in Miniature: Near Eastern Seals from the Collection of Martin and Sarah Cherkasky,” The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, September 10, 1987–January 10, 1988.

“’A Seal Upon Thine Heart’: Glyptic Art of the Ancient Near East, ca. 3500–2100 B.C.,” The Pierpont Morgan Library and Museum, New York, January 7–April 26, 1998.

Pittman, Holly, in collaboration with Joan Aruz. 1987. Ancient Art in Miniature: Near Eastern Seals from the Collection of Martin and Sarah Cherkasky. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, no. 7, p. 50.

Annual Report of the Trustees of The Metropolitan Museum of Art 119 (July 1, 1988 - June 30, 1989), p. 16.

Invernizzi, Antonio. 1992. Dal Tigri All'Eufrate I: Sumeri E Accadi. Florence: Casa Editrice Le Lettere, p. 193, figs. 252, 256.
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