Cylinder Seal

56.218.7a

About this object

Gold capped stone cylinder seal with an engraved scene of seven standing figures, the central figure facing forward, feet splayed, wearing a long skirt and possibly a hat. She is probably the winged Mistress of the Animal, flanked by two standing lions and and two female figures on each of her side facing the central figure and possibly leading a procession or a sacrifice. Standing lions also flank each of the female attendants. Scenes on these seals often feature a procession, sometime toward a central figure, with one or more figures holding animals, sometimes with knives and other accessories that might be related to sacrifice

The seal has a central hole only on one of its side and it is pierced in the middle. The golden cap is loose and has a stepped appearance.

For the carving, it is typical of the so-called "Elaborate" style. It was very intricately carved with a drill and graver. It is concave in section, like many cylinder seals (a feature that makes them easier to roll out in clay). Scenes on these seals often feature a procession, sometime toward a central figure, with one or more figures holding animals, sometimes with knives and other accessories that might be related to sacrifice.

Object specifics

  • Type
    Writing
  • Culture
    Late Cypriot IIB
  • Artist/Maker
    Unknown or unrecorded
  • Place made
    Europe: Southern Europe: Cyprus
  • Date made
    1300 BC
  • Materials
    Gold; Haematite
  • Location
    Item not currently on display
  • Acquisition
    Gift of St Andrews University and Liverpool Museums Kouklia Expedition
  • Collector
    St Andrews University and Liverpool Museums Kouklia Expedition
  • Place collected
    Europe: Southern Europe: Cyprus: Kouklia: Evreti Tomb 3A
  • Date collected
    1952
  • Measurements
    38 mm x 16 mm x 16 mm
  • Note
    From Evreti,Tomb 3A, no. 19. The seal was found with a group of gold and silver jewellery and ivory objects. According to Iliffe's and Mitford's correspondence to the Department of Antiquities in the Ashmolean Museum, these findings were from a subsequent burial than the first use of the tomb in the late 15th- 16th centiry BC. The contents of the earlier burial had been looted and pushed away and there was no skeleton left in the later burial.
    Joanna Smith commented on the scene and design of this seal via email(16/05/2016 ). In the Paphos region, a hematite cylinder with some similar figures was found at Polis by Stathis Raptou and Joanna has provided a copy of the article that has not yet been published. Joanna observed that such cylinders go back to LCIIA and continued in circulation and production in later periods. As at Polis, some were deposited in Iron Age contexts. J. Smith also compared the piercing in the middle of this seal with the one published by Dikaios from Enkomi no. 1 and noted that was published by Edith Porada as a stamp and not a cylinder seal. J. Smith observed that someone tried to pierce it longitudinally and slipped and this may have been the reason it turned into a seal.
    Another seal with a similar piercing but a non Cypriot design is in the Van Vleck collection in the Princeton University Art Museum but it is not from Cyprus and its provenance is unknown (y1970-29). This seal is pierced through the diameter and thus cuts the design right at the mid-point.
    J. Smith also commented on the stepped appearance and design of the cap. Several cylinders could have one or two caps which were added. The caps differ slightly in design. Some cylnders were carved to have a short of stepped look at the end and some of those have one or more caps.
    For a summary of various figures in ceremonial or sacrifice scenes, see Webb's Ritual Architecture from p. 262 and on Elaborate style cylinders see Webb in Script and Seal Use 2002.
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