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Mesopotamian Cylinder Seals and Seal Inscriptions in the Old Babylonian Period


Cylinder seals were important instruments in the Ancient Near East, and were used in Mesopotamia from the beginning of the third millennium BCE to the fifth century BCE. This volume presents an analysis of 1000 cylinder seals (including 70 that are not yet published) from the Old Babylonian period, including the Isin and Larsa dynasties, and uses this analysis as well as data from written texts of the period to answer questions relating to the seal cutters and the production of the seals.
Publisher: Gorgias Press LLC
Availability: In stock
SKU (ISBN): 978-1-4632-0167-8
  • *
Publication Status: In Print

Publication Date: Jun 2,2014
Interior Color: Black with Color Inserts
Trim Size: 6 x 9
Page Count: 301
Language: English
ISBN: 978-1-4632-0167-8
$95.00
$57.00

Cylinder seals were important instruments in the Ancient Near East, and were used in Mesopotamia from the beginning of the third millennium BCE to the fifth century BCE. Cylinder seals were made from various minerals with different degrees of hardness. They served an economic function, identifying the owner, and also served as amulets. Seal cutters were skilled professionals, and the use of seals which were recut due to a change of ownership or abrasion can be identified, providing information about both seal cutters and seal owners. This volume presents an analysis of 1000 cylinder seals (including 70 that are not yet published) from the Old Babylonian period, including the Isin and Larsa dynasties, and uses this analysis as well as data from written texts of the period to answer questions relating to the seal cutters and the production of the seals: What was the significance of the cylinder seals in this period? What is known about the raw materials - the minerals - from which the seals were made? Where did these materials originate, and what can be deduced about the trade in ready-made cylinder seals? Who were the seal cutters? Were they able to read what they wrote on the seals? Which tools did they use? Is it possible to identify which workshops they worked at? Who were the owners of the seals and what were their positions and professions?

Cylinder seals were important instruments in the Ancient Near East, and were used in Mesopotamia from the beginning of the third millennium BCE to the fifth century BCE. Cylinder seals were made from various minerals with different degrees of hardness. They served an economic function, identifying the owner, and also served as amulets. Seal cutters were skilled professionals, and the use of seals which were recut due to a change of ownership or abrasion can be identified, providing information about both seal cutters and seal owners. This volume presents an analysis of 1000 cylinder seals (including 70 that are not yet published) from the Old Babylonian period, including the Isin and Larsa dynasties, and uses this analysis as well as data from written texts of the period to answer questions relating to the seal cutters and the production of the seals: What was the significance of the cylinder seals in this period? What is known about the raw materials - the minerals - from which the seals were made? Where did these materials originate, and what can be deduced about the trade in ready-made cylinder seals? Who were the seal cutters? Were they able to read what they wrote on the seals? Which tools did they use? Is it possible to identify which workshops they worked at? Who were the owners of the seals and what were their positions and professions?

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Rony Feingold

  • Table of Contents (page 5)
  • List of Plates and Tables (page 9)
    • Plates (page 9)
    • Tables (page 10)
  • Preface (page 11)
  • Acknowledgments (page 15)
  • Abbreviations (page 19)
  • Chapter 1. Introduction (page 21)
    • Cylinder seals (page 22)
    • Chronology (page 23)
    • Scope of the research (page 24)
    • Research methodology (page 25)
  • Chapter 2. Raw Materials and Their Origins (page 27)
    • Identifying stones according to the lists (page 30)
    • Lands of origin (page 40)
  • Chapter 3. Workshops and the Manufacture of Seals (page 43)
    • Terminology (page 44)
    • Social status (page 46)
    • The work place (page 47)
    • The tool kit (page 50)
    • The drill (page 52)
    • Abrasive materials (page 55)
    • Writing the inscriptions (page 55)
    • Unfinished cylinder seals (page 58)
    • Unfinished recuts (page 59)
    • The design style (page 60)
  • Chapter 4. Recuts (page 61)
    • Identification (page 61)
    • Characteristics (page 63)
    • Alteration of inscriptions (page 64)
    • Stages of preparation (page 68)
    • Partial recuts (page 69)
  • Chapter 5. Typology of Inscriptions (page 71)
    • No inscription (page 71)
    • Deities (page 71)
    • People (men) (page 76)
    • People (women) (page 78)
    • Dedicatory seals (page 78)
    • Personal seals with archaic sumerian spelling (page 79)
    • Variants (page 79)
  • Chapter 6. Trade (page 81)
    • Unwritten evidence for imports (page 82)
    • Written evidence for imports (page 82)
    • Unwritten evidence for exports (page 83)
    • Written evidence for exports (page 85)
    • Summary (page 85)
  • Chapter 7. The Significance of Cylinder Seals (page 87)
    • Personal seals (page 89)
    • Official seals (page 89)
    • Dedicatory seals (page 90)
    • Use by another individual (page 91)
    • Seals dedicated to gods (page 92)
    • Burgul seals (page 93)
    • The loss of a cylinder seal (page 95)
    • Cylinder seals as amulets (page 95)
    • Secondary uses for seals (page 96)
    • Fakes (page 97)
  • Chapter 8. Analyzing the Data (page 101)
    • Identification of raw materials and their origins (page 101)
    • d—ama, dAya, d—ama-dAya, dAya-d—ama and hematite (page 102)
    • dAmurru (page 103)
    • The seal cutters (page 104)
    • Administration (page 107)
    • Burgul seals (page 109)
    • Miscellaneous (page 110)
    • Recuts (page 110)
    • Seals which include inscriptions (page 111)
    • Women's seals (page 112)
    • Trade (page 112)
    • Seal cutters and the manufacture of seals (page 112)
    • Seals of deities (page 112)
    • Dedicatory seals and personal seals (page 113)
    • Seals that include a profession (page 114)
  • Appendices (page 117)
    • The database which forms the basis of the research (page 117)
    • Concordance to the cylinder seals (page 210)
    • Comments concerning the database (page 212)
    • Raw materials from which the seals were made (page 214)
    • Bibliography and comments (page 220)
    • Cylinder seals: distribution of quantities (page 221)
  • Plates and Tables (page 225)
  • Biblography (page 273)
  • Index (page 281)
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