Highlights from the Collection: Seals and Weights
In central and southern Mesopotamia, both stamp and cylinder seals appeared together near the end of the third millennium B.C. Many stamp seals were carved in the form of an animal or an animal head, and the sealing surface was decorated with simple designs - often representing animals - comprised of drill-holes and incised lines. It is possible that many of the stamps were not actually used as seals but were worn primarily as amulets.
This cylinder seal was dedicated to a little-known goddess, Ninishkun, who is shown interceding on the owner's behalf with the great goddess Ishtar. Ishtar places her right foot upon a roaring lion, which she restrains with a leash. The scimitar in her left hand and the weapons sprouting from her winged shoulders indicate her war-like nature.
The Mesopotamians used sets of standard weights in conducting business and set stiff penalities for those who used false weights. The weights themselves were usually made of a very hard stone like hematite. A simple barrel shape was the most common form, but weights such as these in the form of a duck, with its neck and head resting along its back, were also prevalent.