Product Code Database
Example Keywords: playbook -grand $50
   » » Wiki: Cylinder Seal
Tag Wiki 'Cylinder Seal'.

A cylinder seal is a small round cylinder, typically about one inch (2 to 3 cm) in length, engraved with written characters or figurative scenes or both, used in ancient times to roll an impression onto a two-dimensional surface, generally wet . According to some sources, cylinder seals were invented around 3500 BC in the , at the contemporary sites of in southern and slightly later at in south-western during the period, and they follow the development of in the or slightly earlier.

(2023). 9781614510352, Walter de Gruyter. .
They are linked to the invention of the latter's writing on clay tablets. Mesopotamian cylinder seals, British Museum Why Cylinder Seals? Engraved Cylindrical Seal Stones of the Ancient Near East, Fourth to First Millennium B.C., by Edith Porada © 1993 College Art Association., The Art Bulletin, Vol. 75, No. 4 (Dec., 1993), pp. 563-582, JSTOR Other sources, however, date the earliest cylinder seals to a much earlier time, to the Late Neolithic period (7600-6000 BC), hundreds of years before the invention of writing.

Cylinder seals are a form of , a category which includes the and finger ring seal. They survive in fairly large numbers and are important as art, especially in the and earlier Assyrian periods. Impressions into a soft material can be taken without risk of damage to the seal, and they are often displayed in museums together with a modern impression on a small strip.

The cylinder seals themselves are typically made from hardstones, and some are a form of . They may also use glass or ceramics, like . Many varieties of material such as , , , , and were used to make cylinder seals. As the alluvial country of Mesopotamia lacks good stone for carving, the large stones of early cylinders were imported probably from Iran. Why Cylinder Seals? Engraved Cylindrical Seal Stones of the Ancient Near East, Fourth to First Millennium B.C., by Edith Porada © 1993 College Art Association., The Art Bulletin, Vol. 75, No. 4 (Dec., 1993), pp. 563-582, JSTOR Most seals have a hole running through the centre of the body, and they are thought to have typically been worn on a necklace to be always available when needed.

Cylinder-seal impressions served as an administrative tool, a form of signature, and for .
(2019). 9781107111462, Cambridge University Press. .
The cylinders themselves functioned as jewelry and as magical ; later versions would employ notations with . In later periods, they were used to or attest to multiple impressions of clay documents. and other sites housing precious items such as gold, silver, beads, and gemstones often included one or two cylinder seals, as honorific .

Most Mesopotamian cylinder seals form an image using depressions in the cylinder surface (see lead photo above) to make bumps on the impression and are used primarily on wet clay; but some cylinder seals (sometimes called roller stamps) print images using ink or similar using raised areas on the cylinder (such as the San Andrés cylinder seal, found not in Mesopotamia but in an archaeological site in the present-day Mexican state of ) and produce images on cloth and other similar two-dimensional surfaces.

Cylinder seal impressions appear on a variety of surfaces:

  • bales of
  • bricks
  • clay tablets
  • cloth
  • components of fabricated objects
  • doors
  • envelopes
  • storage jars

Theme-driven, memorial, and commemorative nature
The images depicted on cylinder seals were mostly theme-driven and often sociological or religious. Instead of addressing the authority of the seal, a better study may be of the thematic nature of the seals, since they presented the ideas of the society in pictographic and text form. In a famous cylinder depicting of : he is aiming his drawn bow at an upright enraged lion impaled by two arrows, while his chariot horse is trampling a dead lion. The scene is framed between two slim palm trees and a block of cuneiform text and, above the scene, the symbol of , the god representation of .

Categories of seals
The reference below, Garbini, covers many of the following categories of cylinder seal. Dominique Collon's book First Impressions, which is dedicated to the topic, has over 1000 illustrations.

A categorization of cylinder seals:

  • cylinder seals.
    • Akkadian seal, , stone seal w/ modern impression. See National Geographic Ref. The glyptic (the Scenes) shows "God in ", people, and offerings.
  • cylinder seals.
  • Cypriote Cylinder Seals.
  • cylinder seals.
  • cylinder seals.
    • Clay envelope usage, etc.; see .
  • Kassite (the ), cylinder seals.
  • cylinder seals.
  • Old cylinder seals.
  • cylinder seals; see , Robinson ref.
  • Proto- cylinder seals.
  • Sumerian cylinder seals.
    • Seals of the "Moon-God"; see Sin.
    • see Ref. (Robinson), Seal of , 2112-2095 BC. Close-up picture of Seal, and adjacent 'modern impression' Https://
    • ""; see Mari, Syria.
  • Neo-Sumerian cylinder seals.
    • see Ref (Garbini), "Seated God, and Worshippers", Cylinder seal, and a modern Impressin, p. 40, (British Museum, London).
  • Syrian cylinder seals.

See also

Further reading
  • Bahn, Paul. Lost Treasures, Great Discoveries in World Archaeology, Ed. by Paul G. Bahn, (Barnes and Noble Books, New York), c 1999. Examples of, or discussions of Stamp seals, cylinder seals and a metal stamp seal.
  • . First Impressions, Cylinder Seals in the Ancient Near East, (British Museum Press, London), 1987, 2005. Very comprehensive and up to date account, with many illustrations. The author has compiled several of the volumes cataloging the collection of cylinder seals in the British Museum.
  • Collon, Dominique. Near Eastern Seals, (British Museum, London), 1990. Shorter account which also includes stamp seals . Part of the BM's Interpreting the Past series
  • Frankfort, H. Cylinder Seals, 1939, London. A classic, though obviously doesn't reflect later research.
  • Garbini, Giovanni. Landmarks of the World's Art, The Ancient World, by Giovanni Garbini, (McGraw-Hill Book Company, New York, Toronto), General Eds, Bernard S. Myers, New York, Trewin Copplestone, London, c 1966. "Discussion, or pictures of about 25 cylinder seals"; also lists the "Scaraboid seal", an impression seal (needs to be a mirror/reverse to be an impression seal).
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art. Cuneiform Texts in the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Tablets, Cones, and Bricks of the Third and Second Millennia B.C., vol. 1 (New York, 1988). The final section (Bricks) of the book concerns cylinder Seals, with a foreword describing the purpose of the section as to instigate Research into cylinder Seals. The 'cylinder sealing' on the bricks, was done multiple times per brick. Some are of high quality, and some are not. (Also contains the only 2 el , in the US, with Analysis.)
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art. Ancient Near Eastern Art, (Reprint), Metr. Mus. of Art Photograph Studio, Designed, Alvin Grossman, Photography, Lynton Gardiner, (Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin (Spring 1984)), c 1984. 56pgs.
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art. Beyond Babylon, Art, Trade and Diplomacy in the Second Millennium BC, ed. Joan Aruz. 2008. Many cylinder seals of the period illustrated in color with impressions and descriptions.
  • National Geogr. Soc. Wonders of the Ancient World; National Geographic Atlas of Archeology, Norman Hammond, Consultant, Nat'l Geogr. Soc., (Multiple Staff authors), (Nat'l Geogr., R.H.Donnelley & Sons, Willard, OH), 1994, 1999, Reg. or Deluxe Ed. Origins of Writing, section, pp 68–75. Akkadian Cylinder seal, with its modern seal impression. p. 71.
  • Robinson, Andrew. The Story of Writing, Andrew Robinson, (Thames and Hudson), c 1995, paperback ed., c 1999. (Page 70, Chapter 4: Cuneiform) cylinder seal (and impression), with 2095 BC hieroglyphs, 2X-3X; , impression only, of chariot hunting scene, 2X, ca 500 BC.

External links

Page 1 of 1
Page 1 of 1


Pages:  ..   .. 
Items:  .. 


General: Atom Feed Atom Feed  .. 
Help:  ..   .. 
Category:  ..   .. 
Media:  ..   .. 
Posts:  ..   ..   .. 


Page:  .. 
Summary:  .. 
1 Tags
10/10 Page Rank
5 Page Refs
2s Time