A large Sumerian Marble Cylinder Seal, Early Dynastic I- III,
ca. 2700 - 2400 BCE
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A new start in Sumerian glyptic occurred in Early Dynastic II, with the conventionally called "Contest Scene" becoming the most common design. In fact, it shows the larger domesticated animals being protected from attacks of lions and other marauders by divine beings; a form of sympathetic magic because people hoped that in real life temple herds would be saved, where necessary, by divine intervention. Inscriptions naming the seals' owners also began in this period.
This large seal, carved from white marble is an excellent example of this style, with the typical rounded bodies and highly stylized heads. Its busy scene shows a bovine being attacked by a lion, crossed by a bovine aided by a hero gripping the hind legs of a gazelle, a male figure sacrificing an animal and a scorpion is in the field.
Dimensions: Length: 1 11/16 inches (4.3 cm)
Condition: Intact and in very good condition overall.
Provenance: Collection of Professor Hans (1900-1967) and Mrs. Marie-Louise Erlenmeyer, Basel as part of the Erlenmeyer Collection of Western Asiatic Seals, thereafter private NYC collection, acquired from Sotheby's, NYC, June 4th, 1998 sale #7143, lot 344.
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ca. 2700 - 2400 BCE