cylinder seal

a small carved cylinder used esp. by the ancient Mesopotamians to impress a design in wet clay.
[1885-90]

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Small stone cylinder engraved in intaglio on its surface to leave impressions when rolled on wet clay.

It first appeared с 3400–2900 BC and is considered to be one of the finest artistic achievements of Mesopotamia. The earliest examples used geometric or animal patterns; later seals incorporated the owner's name and depicted a variety of motifs. They were used to mark personal property and make documents legally binding. The seals were adopted in Egypt and the Indus civilization.

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▪ ancient art
 small stone cylinder engraved in intaglio on its surface to leave impressions when rolled on wet clay. Cylinder seals are characteristic artifacts of ancient Mesopotamian civilization and are considered some of its finest artistic achievements. The seals first appear during the Protoliterate Period (c. 3400–2900 BC), and, although the earliest examples used primarily geometric, magical, or animal patterns, later seals incorporated the owner's name and depicted a variety of motifs. Sometimes the elements were arranged in symmetrical, decorative patterns; often, however, an action was represented.

      Cylinder seals were employed in marking personal property and in making documents legally binding. Their fashioning and use were adopted by surrounding civilizations, such as those of Egypt and the Indus valley.

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Universalium. 2010.

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