Art/ Collection/ Art Object
{{img.publicCaption}}

Cylinder seal and modern impression: rows of animals; falcons flanking goat, Taweret goddesses

Period:
Old Syrian
Date:
ca. 18th–17th century B.C.
Geography:
Syria
Medium:
Stone
Dimensions:
H. 11/16 in. (1.7 cm); Diam. 3/8 in. (1 cm)
Classification:
Stone-Cylinder Seals
Credit Line:
Gift of Nanette B. Kelekian, in memory of Charles Dikran and Beatrice Kelekian, 1999
Accession Number:
1999.325.151
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. The imagery on this seal is divided into a number of horizontal and vertical registers. To the right of a vertical guilloche band the imagery is divided into two registers by a horizontal guilloche band. In the upper register, two confronted falcons each extend a wing over a recumbent horned animal. In the lower register, two confronted figures, perhaps of the Egyptian goddess Taweret, hold knives above two ankh symbols, which flank a recumbent horned animal above a duck. To the right of this scene are three vertical columns with figures at right angles to the scene. In the first are a pair of confronted flying vultures. In the second and third, three recumbent horned animals are depicted.
Acquired by Dikran G. Kelekian between 1893-1910; Kelekian collection (until 1999); acquired by the Museum in 1999, gift of Nanette B. Kelekian, New York.
Metropolitan Museum of Art. 2000. "Departmental Accessions: Ancient Near East." Annual Report of the Trustees of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, No. 130 (Jul. 1,1999 - Jun. 30, 2000), p. 9.
Related Objects

Cult vessel in the form of a tower with cylinder seal impressions near the top

Date: ca. 19th century B.C. Medium: Ceramic Accession: 68.155 On view in:Gallery 403

Cylinder seal and modern impression: deity, goat, and worshiper; terminal; sphinxes, guilloche, bull and leaper (?)

Date: ca. 1820–1730 B.C. Medium: Hematite Accession: 1999.325.133 On view in:Gallery 403

Cylinder seal and modern impression: animal combat and sphinx

Date: ca. early 2nd millennium B.C. Medium: Hematite Accession: 66.76.2 On view in:Gallery 406

Cylinder seal and modern impression: four registers: hands, human and goat heads

Date: ca. 1720–1650 B.C. Medium: Hematite Accession: 1999.325.164 On view in:Gallery 403

Cylinder seal and modern impression: confronted king and goddess (?), five rows of inscription

Date: ca. 1720–1650 B.C. Medium: Hematite Accession: 1999.325.170 On view in:Gallery 403