A MESOPOTAMIAN STONE CYLINDER SEAL
Please refer to our stock # S.16 when inquiring.
Early Dynastic II; c. 2800-2600 BCE
This seal made of soft white stone depicts a battle scene between various animals. In the center of the image is a lion, on the right, attacking a caprid, most likely an ibex or goat, on the left. Behind this pair and to the right another lion is also attacking a caprid, this time with their positions reversed. To the far left, the image is divided into two registers. On the upper register is the head of an animal and below a kneeling human figure is holding a domestic animal, most likely a goat.
In excellent and original condition.
29.5 mm high (1.16 inches)
Worldwide Shipping and Certificate of Authenticity Included in Price
Export Approval from the Israel Antiquities Authority
Cylinder seals are not only beautiful to look at but give a glimpse into the theology and psychological state of the culture who created them. On the surface this image is aesthetically pleasing and a well handled delineation of space. When one looks deeper into the iconography we see in this image a representation of human civilization at the mercy of the majority of the natural world. The main scene represents both a real and perceived danger. Predators were numerous in 3rd Millennium Mesopotamia and were a legitimate threat to the livestock kept by an agricultural society. However, on a more psychological level, the ibex and goats, ie those animals necessary and beneficial to human subsistence, represented order in the universe whereas the lions, ie predators, represented chaos. That a human is depicted diminutively to the side of this battle suggests that while he is protecting the domestic animal in his care he is not able to influence the larger battle raging around him.