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MA1507

A Neo-Assyrian Chalcedony Cylinder Seal, ca. 8th - 7th century BC

A presentation scene depicted between two border lines; to the right stands the goddess Istar, the most important female deity of ancient Mesopotamia, wearing a horned, cylindrical headdress with a globe on the top, her hair falling to her shoulders, with a single plait to her waist, she wears a long tiered and striated open robe over a kilt and there is a sword at her waist. The right hand of the goddess is extended, the palm facing outward and in her outstretched left hand she holds a circlet. As is the common method of depicting a divine character in the Mesopotamian world, she stands with her right leg advanced, and placed on the back of her recumbent lion attribute. 

Behind the goddess stands a female worshipper, wearing a long fringed robe, different to that of the goddess, with short upturned hair and conical headdress. She holds a group of pomegranates in her outstretched left hand whereas her right hand is extended with palm up. In the ground above the woman is a seven pointed star and the spade of Marduk. Above and in front of the goddess is the vertical wedge or stylus of Nabu and a winged solar disc representing the main Assyrian god, Ashur. Streamers emanate down from the disc, below which is an 'omega' symbol, the divine emblem associated with Istar, and thereafter a large offering table with crossed legs, bedecked with a long cloth and a cup. Opposite the goddess stand two bearded worshippers, both wearing long fringed robes and conical hats, their hair shoulder-length, their right hand raised, the index finger extended, their left hand cupped, palm upwards. Above them, in the upper field is a crescent moon, representing the god Sin.

Condition:  There is a long chip just behind the head of the goddess and a small loss to the body of the seal behind the second male worshipper, plus a few minor chips to the edges and surface deposits. Otherwise the seal is intact and is a fine example of the late modeled style of Assyrian glyptic, showing excellent balance and proportion in the design and skillful use of the drill to emphasize physical structure.

Dimensions: Height: 3.5 cm (1 3/8 inches)

Provenance:  Maryland private family collection since late 1930's, by descent to present owner.

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