This gold cap is part of a group of gold jewelry elements and cylinder seals found buried together at the ancient city of Dilbat, a site south of Babylon (47.1a-h). The cap and two others like it from the so-called “Dilbat hoard” (41.1j, 41.1k) are decorated with triangles of gold granulation. Originally, this cap would have been one of a pair that encased a cylinder seal. (The seals found in the hoard do not fit the caps.) A hole at the top of the cap suggests that the cap and its cylinder were meant to be strung and worn by the individual owner, but probably not as part of a composite ensemble represented by the hoard, which includes pendants and beads made in a range of styles and gold alloys, and executed with varying levels of craftsmanship.
Although it is rare for a cylinder to be preserved with its caps, impressions of cylinder seals showing borders of triangles indicate that the use of caps like this one became particularly popular during the Kassite period (ca. 1595-1155 B.C.). The combination of gold caps with brightly colored and highly polished cylinder seal stones would have created an appealing item of jewelry and emphasized the magical powers of the stone, which could act as a protective amulet for the wearer.
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47.1j, 47.1k, 47.1l
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Title:Cylinder seal cap
Period:late Old Babylonian–early Kassite
Date:ca. 17th–16th century BCE
Geography:Mesopotamia, said to be from Dilbat
Culture:Babylonian or Kassite
Dimensions:H: 1.2 cm D: 1.2 cm
Credit Line:Fletcher Fund, 1947
Ca. 1911, known and possibly purchased by Ernst Herzfeld, near Tell al-Deylam (ancient Dilbat); by 1914, collection of Frida and/or Georg Hahn, Berlin, who most probably acquired it from Ernst Herzfeld; 1939, left on deposit at the British Museum by the Hahn family; acquired by the Museum in 1947, purchased from Charlotte Weidler, New York, on behalf of Georg Hahn.
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