Cylinder seals of the Ancient Near East

As part of AssyrOnline Project, cylinder seals kept in the Cabinet des médailles et antiques of the Bibliothèque nationale de France have been digitized and published on the SESPOA (Sceaux et empreintes de sceau du Proche-Orient ancien) website.

The cylinder seals of the Ancient Near East are small objects engraved with figurative or non-figurative illustration and sometimes with text ; they were produced and used between 3300 and 300 BC. Generally made of hard stone and more or less the size of a bottle cap, they were unrolled on fresh clay to seal containers and doors, or to leave an impression on some types of cuneiforms texts. The main function of the seals was to verify and authenticate transactions or protect access to property and buildings. 

These objects were also used as jewellery, votive objects or amulets. The cylinder seals and their impressions on clay constitute one of the most important documentary sets of the Ancient Near East. Due to the variety of the objects themselves - of the materials as well as of the scenes and motifs engraved in miniatures - they represent a major source of information for researchers.

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