A Near Eastern stamp alabaster seal, finely carved in the shape of a lion head, most likely belonging to the late Uruk /Jemdet Nasr cultural assemblage, dated to circa 3500-2900 BC. The figure is cut in the form of half a lion’s protome: the left half of the head of the beast is perfectly rendered in three dimensions while the other half is flat. Simple and linear features combined with a detailed anatomy are the principal characteristics of animal representations of the late Uruk /Jemdet Nasr period. Here, for instance, the structure of the lion’s head is entirely sculpted and the ear is prominently shown. The base is drilled with abstract shapes.
Date: Circa 3800–2900 BC Condition: Fine, with slight irregularities on the surface.
The earliest zoomorphic stamp seals appear to have first been produced in Ancient Mesopotamia, from the 7th millennium BC onwards, usually pierced for suspension and worn around the neck as an identity marker. Seals engraved with depiction of animals, such as recumbent rams, fish or lions, are testimony to the cultural syncretism of Ancient Mesopotamian glyphic art. Stylistically, seals from the Jemdet Nasr period appear adherent to Uruk tradition, however in a less elaborate form. Stamp and cylinder seals from the Uruk/Jemdet Nasr period possess extremely significant cultural value, not only testifying the development of Mesopotamian glyphic art, but also inspiring the glyphic art of the later Early Dynastic and Akkadian periods.