• Українська
  • English
ISSN 2415-8712 (Online)
   ISSN 1682-671X (Print)

Ancient Mesopotamian Cylinder Seals in the Museum of Historical Treasures of Ukraine

1Lassen, AW, 2de Ridder, JJ, 3Velychko, E
1PhD (Assyriology) Yale University 120, High Street, SML, Babylonian Collection, New Haven, CT 06511, USA agnete.lassen@yale.edu
2PhD (Assyriology/Altorientalistik) Friedrich Schiller University of Jena 4, Zwätzengasse, D-07743, Jena, Germany jacob.jan.de.ridder@uni-jena.de
3Senior Research Fellow Museum of Historical Treasures of Ukraine,Branch of the National Museum of the History of Ukraine, 9, Lavrska Str., 12 Bldg., Kyiv, 01015, Ukraine lerejena@gmail.com
Shodoznavstvo 2021, 88:171-182
https://doi.org/10.15407/skhodoznavstvo2021.88.171
Section: Source Study and Historiography
Language: English
Abstract: 

The Museum of Historical Treasures of Ukraine, branch of the National Museum of the History of Ukraine holds five cylinder seals allegedly made of chalcedony that were confiscated at customs between late 1990s and early 2000s. Cylinder seals are important objects of the ancient Mesopotamian culture as they were rolled over clay tablets for ratification. At the same time, depictions with motifs from religion and daily life were carved onto them. The seals in Ukraine provide an interesting overview of almost three thousand years of sealing practice in Ancient Mesopotamia. One of the more common themes in seals is the presentation scene, which contains a standing worshipper led by a goddess before a seated deity. Three of the seals in the Museum of Historical Treasures are variants of this scene, although two of them are executed crudely and are of dubious authenticity. They seem to imitate the Sumerian Ur III style. Examples of glyptic art from this period can be found in the collection of the Vernadsky National Library in Kyiv, which holds three Sumerian Ur III tablets with impressions of cylinders seals. The third seal with the presentation scene in the museum is dated to the Old Babylonian period and is notable for an Ugallu demon being depicted inverted. One seal in the collection depicts severed human heads among twigs in a floral motif. The final seal to be discussed dates to the Neo-Assyrian Empire of the 1st millennium BCE and is recognizable by the depiction of a Lamassu – a winged bull with human head. This study provides a catalogue of the seals present in the museum, with a short introduction to the practice of sealing and its terminology in native languages in the Ancient Near East.

Keywords: Babylonian, cylinder seals, glyptic art, iconography, Lamassu, Mesopotamia, Sumerian, Syria, Ugallu, Ur III

Повний текст (PDF)

References: 
  1. Black J. and Green A. (1998), Gods, Demons and Symbols of Ancient Mesopotamia: An Illustrated Dictionary, Illustrations by Tessa Rickards, 2nd ed., British Museum Press, London.
  2. Collon D. (2005), First Impressions: Cylinder Seals in the Ancient Near East, 2nd rev. ed., British Museum Press, London.
  3. de Ridder J. J. and Zomer E. (in print), “Ur III Texts in The Vernadsky National Library of Ukraine”, Revue d’Assyriologie et d’Archéologie Orientale, T. 115.
  4. Green D. (1988), “A Note on the ‘Lion-Demon’ ”, in Iraq, Vol. 50, pp. 167–8. https://doi.org/10.2307/4200290
  5. van de Mieroop M. (2015), A History of the Ancient Near East ca. 3000323 BC, 3rd ed., Wiley Blackwell, Malden.
  6. Teissier B. (1996), Egyptian Iconography on Syro-Palestinian Cylinder Seals of the Middle Bronze Age, Fribourg University Press, Fribourg.
  7. Turayev B. (1900), ”O dvukh klinopisnyh tablichkakh Muzeya Tserkovno-Arkheoloricheskharo Obshchestva pri Kievskoy Dukhovnoy Akademii”, Zapiski Vostochnago Otdelenіya Imperatorskago Russkago Arkheologicheskago Obshchestva, T. 13, pp. 8–14. (In Russian).
  8. Wiggermann F. A. M. (2007). “Some Demons of Time and their Functions in Mesopotamian Iconography”, in B. Groneberg, and H. Spieckermann (eds), Die Welt der Götterbilder, ein Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft, Walter de Gruyter, Berlin and New York, pp. 102–16.