Intaglios find their origin in Sumer in the 4th millennium BC with the creation of cylinder and stamp seals. A seal comprises a design carved onto a hard material: although most often made of stone, there are also examples rendered in bone, ivory, faience, glass, or, as this case shows us, in semi-precious stones like carnelian. In the ancient world, seals guaranteed the authenticity of marked ownership. As such, they were instrumental in legal transactions, and in the protection of goods against theft. Ishtar (Akkadian), Astarte (Phoenician), or Inanna (Sumerian), connected with the 8-pointed star symbol, was the most important female deity in Mesopotamia throughout the second millennium BC. She was identified with the planet Venus and with the sunrise, and was recognised as the goddess of both sexual love and warfare. The Greeks identified her with Aphrodite.
To discover more about the Neo-Assyrians, please visit our relevant post: Civilisations of the Ancient Near East.