The Freud Museum

Cylinder Seal

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4243, Cylinder Seal, c. 19th-18th century B.C.

Artist: Photographer: Ardon Bar Hama
Culture: Old Babylonian
Material: hematite
Dimensions: 1 x in. / 2.6 x 1.5 cm

During the nineteenth and eighteenth centuries B.C. in Babylon, cylinder seals, which acted as a signature, became more necessary due to the increase in legal, administrative and scribal activity.

The scene on this seal depicts an offering to the Babylonian bearded sun god, represented by his animal attribute and the saw-toothed blade that he uses to cut through the eastern mountains at dawn, bringing daylight. A king presents him with an animal offering, while a suppliant goddess with raised arms intervenes on behalf of the owner of the seal. On the far left stands a priest with a cup and small bucket in his hands. Slight traces of an inscription are visible, and suggest erasure, possibly by a second owner.

Seals are generally carved in reverse, and are only properly viewed when rolled out. Freud had about twenty cylinder seals in his collection, and he occasionally enjoyed making clay impressions with them.

See this object on our Collections site here 

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