Jasper cylinder seal


British Museum

British Museum

This red, brown and white jasper cylinder seal has similarities with contemporary Kassite seals from Babylonia, but the worshipper’s hairstyle and curious gesture, as well as the outward curve of the horned divine headdress, are typical of second millennium BC Iranian seal-cutting. Indeed, impressions of similar seals have been found at Haft Tepe in south-west Iran. This site was occupied, it seems, only during the fourteenth to thirteenth centuries BC, so any material similar to that found there can be relatively closely dated. The cuneiform inscription on the seal is unfortunately difficult to decipher.

The period of this seal was the heyday of Elam, the name given to the south-western part of Iran in antiquity. Relations with Mesopotamia were close and in the twelfth century the Elamite king Shutruk-Nahunte invaded Babylonia and took back to Susa many important monuments including the Code of Hammurapi (now in the Musée du Louvre, Paris).

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  • Title: Jasper cylinder seal
  • Date Created: -1400/-1300
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 3.66cm; Diameter: 1.58cm; Diameter: 0.40cm (of perforation); Weight: 16.50g
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: engraved
  • Subject: devotee/worshipper
  • Registration number: 1929,1231.22
  • Production place: Made in Iran
  • Place: Excavated/Findspot Iran, South West
  • Period/culture: Middle Elamite
  • Material: jasper; chalcedony; quartz
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum