Neo-Babylonian Carnelian Intaglio with Cultic Scene

£ 500.00

A beautiful example of a Neo-Babylonian red carnelian oval-shaped intaglio, featuring a flat, unworked reverse. The intaglio has been finely engraved with the depiction of bearded male figure, portrayed wearing a traditional conical cap and standing in profile in front of an altar or podium. The space surrounding the figure has been filled with carved religious and cultic symbols. Although the true identity behind the figure remains a mystery, the figure might be identified as a priest, a worshipper or as the Babylonian and Assyrian god Nabu, patron of writing and wisdom. The intaglio would have been originally intended to be mounted on a ring and used as a seal.

Date: Circa 1st Millennium BC
Provenance: From the property of a London gentleman; thence by descent; previously in an important private Mayfair, London collection, acquired after 1970.
Condition: Very fine condition, with one minor chip to one edge.
Product Code: NES-50
Category: Tags: ,

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.

To discover more about Intaglios, please visit our relevant blog post: Intaglios: Miniature Masterpieces.

Dimensions H 1.5 cm
Semi-Precious Stone



Near East (Western Asiatic)

Reference: For a similar item, The Metropolitan Museum, item 93.17.86.

You may also like…