A Published Neo-Assyrian Hematite Cylinder Seal, ca. 8th Century BCE


featuring a very finely carved offering scene; carved in linear design, depicting a bearded priest or worshipper with a domed hair-style, a band above his eye, the hair tied in a bun at the nape of his neck, stands facing right, his left hand raised and holding a mace, bullhead in the field below his left elbow, wearing a long fringed robe and flanked by two winged lions. The identity of this figure has received a great deal of scholarly attention. It has been suggested recently that this figure is an utukku, or powerful spirit, that may embody the ancestral king. He stands, facing two rampant winged, bird-headed griffins who look towards a large sacred tree.

Published: Ilton, P "The Bible was my Treasure Map, Archaeological Adventures in the Holy Land. New York, Julian Messner Inc, (1958), inside cover.

Background:  A period of cultural flowering and exchange developed in Mesopotamia after a dark age that followed the destruction of Babylon in 1595 BCE The emergence of the Assyrians as a political power in northern Mesopotamia during the fourteenth century BCE foreshadowed the ascendancy that culminated in the world empire of the first millennium BCE That phase of history, which falls into the latter half of the second millennium BCE, is called the Middle Assyrian period to distinguish it from the Old Assyrian period (early part of the second millennium BCE) and from the Neo-Assyrian period (first third of the first millennium BCE).

Condition:   Intact and in excellent condition overall.  Presented on a museum quality custom mount.

Dimensions:  Length: 3.7 cm (1.45 inches)

Provenance:  Paul I. Ilton (1904-1958) private collection and then by descent to his son, Arie Ilton. Born in Germany and educated in Universities Cologne and Berlin, Ilton moved to Palestine in 1934 becoming a Palestinian citizen, conducting continuous archaeological research in Palestine, Trans-Jordan, Iraq, Syria, Hedjaz-At and assembling a personal collection that was published in 1958. With the outbreak of World War II, he entered the British Information Service in Jerusalem and served with the rank of captain until 1946 when he took up permanent residence in the United States lecturing at both New York University and Cornell University.

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