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A fine mottled grey stone stamp seal in the form of a lion's head


A fine mottled grey stone stamp seal in the form of a lion's head
Late Uruk/Jemdet Nasr period, 3300-2900 B.C.
Naturalistically carved in profile to the left, pierced horizontally, back of mane broken away, the base with parts of four animals in drill technique
3.3 x 2.9 cm.
Erlenmeyer Collection: sold Christie's, London, 6 June 1989, lot 303.

Lot Essay

This seal may well have been burnt, giving it its colour. This form of seal shows one of the favourite methods of representing lion heads in Mesopotamia and Elam in the Jemdet Nasr period. The lion figures in art throughout the whole of Mesopotamian history and was, in early representations, usually depicted as a powerful beast with thick mane. It is constantly represented throughout the Jemdet Nasr period, epitomising strength and courage, virtues for which it held a privileged position in the animal pantheon. The repeated scenes of lions attacking bulls found on cylinder seals or impressions and on stone bowls show what a threat the animal presented to the flock and herds, and therefore the livelihood, of early inhabitants of Mesopotamia.

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