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These small seals were skillfully carved out of soft stone and then fired to make them more durable. At 4.3 cm it is larger than most. Only 3,500 or so seals have been found so far and most of those are broken, so this one is very rare. Like most seals it is square, with a set of linguistic signs along the top; there is a long-necked unicorn in the centre and an altar containing food below the animal’s head. On the back is a loop, probably to hold while pressing the seal into other materials such as clay. It could have been carried or worn from a cord. These seals were clearly important for record-keeping in the international trade that passed through the Indus Valley, but they signify too a reverence for the spiritual force of the animal world. There are similar seals in the British Museum and the Metropolitan Museum, but most of the examples in their collections are fragmentary.
Dimensions: 4.3 cm square.
Condition: Excellent for its great age; it has a wonderful patina; there is an old fracture line in the stone across one corner that probably dates from its manufacture; no repairs.
Purchased in Peshawar, Pakistan in 1969.