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Old Screeds

Sphinx with Arms on an Ancient Assyrian Cylinder Seal

Here's a replica of a cylinder seal impression, sold as a paperweight at the gift shop of The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago.

Well, it was on sale there in the summer of 2017, but I do not see it at the online store now, in February 2018. Here's the actual listing as it appeared on the online store:

You can call it a "human-headed lion" or a "sphinx with arms" but what we are dealing with here is plainly an Assyrian urmahlullu.

I also found this reference to the same seal on a "Tell Asmar cylinder seals" post at the "Bharatkalyan97 A homage to Hindu civilization" website.

Here's a closer look at our lovely urmahlullu, cropped from this photo of the actual seal and an impression, which I found on this page.

20 June 2021 Update: I found more info on this seal in a catalog of sphinxes.

ST.M. NR. MES. 9 --
TYPE: Seal/Cylinder seal/Impression
PRODUCTION PLACE: Syro-Mesopotamia
FIND SPOT: Syro-Mesopotamia/Iraq/Tell Asmar (Eshnunna)
DATE/PERIOD: 3rd Mill. BC/24th-21st c. BC/2350-2000 BC Akkadian
A bearded sphinx wearing a neck-collar and a cap is standing before the Sun-god sitting in his boat; in the surrounding water, some fish are swimming.
At the left (on the photo) stands a Goddess of Fertility or Vegetation, probably as a symbol of the earthly world. She can be identified by the twigs in her hands.
This seal could be the one of the oldest depictions of the relation there existed between the Syro-Mesopotamian sphinx and the sun (cf. Sun-god).
Frankfort 1934: 19 + pl. IIIf.
Frankfort 1954: 90-91 + fig. 96 b.
Amiet 1961: Pl. 113 nr. 1505.
Demisch 1977: 45 + fig. 99.
Hempelmann 2004: fig. 73.
Gräff and Ritter 2011: 57 + fig. 5.

Home | This content created 17 Aug 2017 but first published 20 Feb 2018