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Ancient Art in Miniature: Ancient Near Eastern Seals from the Collection of Martin and Sarah Cherkasky

Ancient Art in Miniature: Ancient Near Eastern Seals from the Collection of Martin and Sarah Cherkasky

Pittman, Holly
1987
80 pages
90 illustrations
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Stamp and cylinder seals are a crucial source for the art, history, and religion of the ancient Near East. The rulers, gods, demons, and monsters that move in stately and seemingly dumb procession around the seals give us important insights into the real and magical worlds of the ancients. Cylinder and stamp seals were among the first objects to enter the Museum's collection from the Near East. In 1874 a large and interesting group was included in the Cesnola collection of ancient Cypriot art, and in 1886 cylinder and stamp seals from Mesopotamia—as well as more than three hundred cuneiform tablets—were acquired from William H. Ward. Through its participation in excavations and through gifts and purchases, the Museum has received since that time over a thousand stamp and cylinder seals from all periods and regions in the pre-Islamic Near East.

This catalogue and the exhibition in the Museum's Recent Acquisitions gallery acknowledge the generous gift of more than two hundred and fifty seals from the Martin and Sarah Cherkasky collection of stamp and cylinder seals. It is an important gift—one that substantially strengthens and supplements the Museum's holdings. Additionally, the exhibition includes a number of objects from the permanent collection for comparative and illustrative purposes.

Met Art in Publication

Vessel in the form of a boar, Ceramic, paint, Proto-Elamite
Proto-Elamite
ca. 3100–2900 BCE
Cylinder seal and modern impression: banquet scene with seated figures drinking a liquid through straws, Gypsum alabaster, Sumerian
Sumerian
ca. 2600–2350 BCE
Man carrying a box, possibly for offerings, Copper alloy, Sumerian
Sumerian
ca. 2900–2600 BCE
Cylinder seal and modern impression: snake god and deities with hands and feet in the form of snakes, scorpions, and goats, Metadiorite, Akkadian
Akkadian
ca. 2350–2150 BCE
Cylinder seal and modern impression: hunting scene, Chert, Akkadian
Akkadian
ca. 2250–2150 BCE
Statue of Gudea, named “Gudea, the man who built the temple, may his life be long”, Diorite, Neo-Sumerian
Neo-Sumerian
ca. 2090 BCE
Cuneiform tablet impressed with cylinder seal: deliveries of oxen, Clay, Neo-Sumerian
Neo-Sumerian
ca. 2040 BCE
Cylinder with a ritual scene, Gypsum alabaster, Iran
Iran
early 2nd millennium BCE
Pendants and beads, Gold, Babylonian
Babylonian
ca. 18th–17th century BCE
Openwork stamp seal: figure holding snakes, Copper alloy, Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex
Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex
ca. late 3rd–early 2nd millennium BCE
Shaft-hole axe head with bird-headed demon, boar, and dragon, Silver, gold foil, Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex
Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex
ca. late 3rd–early 2nd millennium BCE
Royal or divine figure with high conical headdress, Bronze
ca. 18th–17th century BCE
Furniture plaque carved in relief with a male figure slaying a griffin, Ivory, Assyrian
Assyrian
ca. 9th–8th century BCE
Stamp seal, Lapis lazuli, Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex
Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex
ca. late 3rd–early 2nd millennium BCE
Pyramidal seal, Chlorite or steatite, black
ca. 3100–2900 BCE (?)
Carinated hemispheroid seal, Chlorite or steatite, brown-black
ca. 4000–3500 BCE
Rectangular plaque seal, Chlorite or steatite, black-brown
ca. 3100–2900 BCE
Gable seal, Chlorite or steatite, black
ca. 4000–3000 BCE
Stamp seal: two boars, Chlorite or steatite
ca. 3800–3500 BCE
Seal amulet in the form of a reclining cow, Alabaster
ca. 3300–2900 BCE
Showing 20 of 96

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Pittman, Holly, and Joan Aruz. 1987. Ancient Art in Miniature: Near Eastern Seals from the Collection of Martin and Sarah Cherkasky. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art.