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HOME : Jewelry and Seals : Cylinder Seal Pendants : Assyrio-Babylonian Hematite Cylinder Seal
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Assyrio-Babylonian Hematite Cylinder Seal - FJ.6656
Origin: Mesopotamia
Circa: 1500 BC to 800 BC

Collection: Jewelry
Style: Cylinder Seal Pendant
Medium: Hematite and Gold

Additional Information: fj.7270
Location: United States
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This genuine ancient cylinder seal has been mounted in a 22 karat gold fitting from the 1920’s.

Cylinder seals are characteristic artifacts of ancient Mesopotamian civilization and are considered some of their finest artistic achievements. The seals first appear during the Protoliterate Period (around 3400–2900 B.C.), and, although the earliest examples were engraved with primarily geometric, magical, or animal patterns, later seals incorporated the owner's name and depicted a variety of motifs. Sometimes the elements were arranged in symmetrical, decorative patterns; often, however, an action was represented. Cylinder seals were employed in marking personal property and in making documents legally binding by rolling the seal across wet clay, thereby marking the unique “signature” engraved on the cylinder. Their fashioning and use were adopted by surrounding civilizations, such as those of Egypt and the Indus valley.

The motifs engraved onto this cylinder are quite fascinating. Two large figures, probably deities, stand facing each other under a pair of hawk wings. A row of flowers, sphinxes, and a man battling a lion fill out the rest of the design. This unique imagery would have originally stood for an individual’s identity. In business or legal matters, this combination of figures would have been as immediately recognizable to all the parties involved as a signature is today. Likewise, rolled over wax, the seal would be just as legally binding as a signature is today. This gorgeous seal has been mounted in a striking 22 karat gold fitting decorated with a pattern that imitates the incised flowers seen on the seal. Today this cylinder seal is a unique testament to the strength of identity and individuality that has survived many millennia.
- (FJ.6656)


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