Two Cylinder Seals from Ur III in Arak

CDLN 2023:3

Cuneiform Digital Library Notes (ISSN: 1546-6566)

Published on 2023-02-22

© The Authors

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License except when noted otherwise and in the case of artifact images which follow the CDLI terms of use.

Amir Zamani ORCID logo

amirzamani1983@yahoo.com

Leiden University

Sina Abaslou

sina_abaslou39@yahoo.com

University of Iranshahr

Introduction

This short contribution publishes two cylinder seals that were confiscated by the Iranian authorities.1 In 2020, a car traveling from Lorestan Province in western Iran was stopped by local police near Arak, in neighboring Markazi Province. After a routine vehicle inspection, the seals discussed in the following were found and confiscated. The two persons in possession of the seals were questioned and then confessed that they had bought them from Lorestan. They provided no further details, however. The seals were then delivered to the Arak Čahār Fasl Museum and kept in storage for a year. They are currently on public display. They belong to the late 3rd millennium BCE (museum no. 3120) and the late 3rd or early 2nd millennium BCE (museum no. 3121) respectively. Their provenance is impossible to establish, yet the style of the seals is clearly (southern) Mesopotamian, although such types were also found at Susa.

Arak Čahār Fasl Museum no. 3120

Cylinder seal (P532988)

height: 33 mm
diameter: 17 mm

Figure 1: Physical seal and impression of 3120. Photo by Amir Zamani.

 

Figure 2: Line drawing of inscription of seal impression from 3120. Drawing by Sonia Mirzaie.

 

Figure 3: Line drawing of seal impression from 3120. Drawing by Sonia Mirzaie.

Inscription

transliteration translation
1. lugal-kisal Lugal-kisal
2. dumu ma2-ga?-ru Son of Magaru

 

Description

The seal depicts a contest scene (Fig. 1 and Fig. 3) with two nude heroes typical for the post-Akkadian and Ur III seals (ca. 2200-2000 BCE), (Collon 2005, 35–36). Contest scenes depict “a physical struggle between various kinds of unarmed figures in human, animal and monstrous form (...) human form, as protagonists, while all figures in animal form, including monsters, are the antagonists” (Mayr 2005, 45). The hero to the right of the inscription faces right, extending his left arm upwards to stab a lion with a dagger. His right arm grasps the lion by its left foreleg. The lion moves forward and faces the hero extending its right foreleg upwards; left foreleg is held downward by the hero; its toes are splayed. The lion’s tail curls upward forming an “S”. The hero to the left of the inscription faces left, extending his right arm upwards to stab a deer with a dagger while his left arm grasps the deer. The deer holds its upper forelegs bent and its head is held back.

Arak Čahār Fasl Museum no. 3121

Cylinder seal (P532989)

height: 30 mm
diameter: 11 mm

Figure 4: Physical seal and impression of 3121. Photo by Amir Zamani.

 

Figure 5: Line drawing of inscription of seal impression from 3121. Drawing by Sonia Mirzaie.

 

Figure 6: Line drawing of seal impression from 3121. Drawing by Sonia Mirzaie.

Inscription

transliteration translation
1. ur-dšara2 ašgab Ur-Šara, fuller
2. ir11 dšara servant of the god Šara

Description

The seal depicts a presentation scene (Fig. 4 and Fig. 6), showing the owner of the seal in deference to an authority. Although the seal owner shows deference to a higher authority, at the same time the owner receives approval from the authority (Mayr 2005, 53). An adorant, possibly clean-shaved, stands to the left of the inscription facing right. He holds his right arm up in a gesture of respect. The expected minor deity in front of him also faces right, bending his left arm while taking with his right arm the left arm of the adorant. Both are wearing a fringed robe with curved ends. The adorant is introduced by the minor deity to a seated, bearded king facing leftwards in a flounced robe with a so-called cap-and-turban, sitting on a paneled throne (Collon 2005, 36–39).

Notes

1 We wish to express our gratitude to Dr. Rients de Boer (Universiteit Leiden), Dr. Rudolf  H. Mayr, and Prof. Manuel Molina (CSIC, Madrid) for reading the manuscript and valuable suggestions. We are truly grateful to Miss Sonia Mirzaie for making drawings of the seals.  

References

Collon, D. 2005 First Impressions. Cylinder Seals in the Ancient Near East. London

Mayr, R. 2005 'Seal Impressions on Tablets from Umma'. Unpublished PhD-thesis.

Cite this Article
Zamani, Amir, and Sina Abaslou. 2023. “Two Cylinder Seals from Ur III in Arak.” Cuneiform Digital Library Notes 2023 (3). https://cdli.mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de/articles/cdln/2023-3.
Zamani, A., & Abaslou, S. (2023). Two Cylinder Seals from Ur III in Arak. Cuneiform Digital Library Notes, 2023(3). https://cdli.mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de/articles/cdln/2023-3
Zamani, A. and Abaslou, S. (2023) “Two Cylinder Seals from Ur III in Arak,” Cuneiform Digital Library Notes, 2023(3). Available at: https://cdli.mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de/articles/cdln/2023-3 (Accessed: April 22, 2024).
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	address = {Oxford; Berlin; Los Angeles},
	author = {Zamani, Amir and Abaslou, Sina},
	journal = {Cuneiform Digital Library Notes},
	issn = {1546-6566},
	number = {3},
	year = {2023},
	publisher = {Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative},
	title = {Two {Cylinder} {Seals} from {Ur} {III} in {Arak}},
	url = {https://cdli.mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de/articles/cdln/2023-3},
	volume = {2023},
}

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