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MA1416

A Sasanian Serpentine Dome Seal, ca late 1st millennium BC

of ellipsoidal form, the flat base incised with a stylized lion, the dome decorated with circles and a sun monograms, pierced for suspension.

Stamp and cylinder seals are a crucial source for the art, history, and religion of the ancient Near East. The rulers, gods, demons, and monsters that move in stately and seemingly dumb procession around the seals give us important insights into the real and magical worlds of the ancients.  A large number of Sasanian seals are decorated with so-called monograms. The simplest form consists of a moon crescent which tops a horizontal bar that terminates on either side in a curving hook. The precise meaning of these monograms is still unknown, though they have been associated with peasants house marks and also with objects resembling standards which are used by some nomadic peoples.  Their occurrence in seals, however, surely indicates that they served one of the principal functions of the seal-stone, namely to protect the wearer and bring him good fortune.

Condition: Small losses to base and signs of usage around the attachment hole, intact and in good condition overall.

Dimensions: Height: 1.5 cm (0.59 inch) , Width:  2 cm (0.78 inch) 

Provenance:  Private German collection acquired in the 1960's, thereafter a private Swiss collection.

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