The Alans were a Scythian people of south-eastern Russia and south of the Caucasus. Ptolemy (fl. 127-148 A.D.) informs us that one of the Alan tribes in the vicinity of the Don were called the Asaioi (the ancestors of the modern As or Ossestes, an Iranian people in the south Caucasus). Most of the Alans were driven westward by the Huns in the early 5th century.
Images of stags with enormous horns were popular in Scythian art during the 6th-4th centuries B.C. The owner of this seal chose as its device a subject clearly evoking this earlier artistic tradition. His name was derived from the name of the tribe of his ancestors, Asaioi. Although the shape of the stone and the style of the engraving are typical of the early Sassanian period, the orthography of the inscription is in part provincial.
Special thanks to Dr. P. Oktor Skjaervo, Aga Khan Professor of Iranian, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University, for his assistance.