WESTERN ASIATIC AKKADIAN CYLINDER SEAL WITH MAULING LIONS AND BULL-MAN 2300-2200 BC
A lapis lazuli cylinder seal with contest scene; accompanied by an old scholarly note, typed and signed by W.G. Lambert, late Professor of Assyriology, University of Birmingham, 1970-1993, which states: 'Cylinder Seal of lapis Lazuli. 22 x 17mm. A contest scene is shown: two lions are mauling an upended horned animal, the one on the left being stabbed by a bull-man with long beard, the one on the right having a body crossing with a third lion which is menacing one of two crossed domestic quadrupeds. A lizard serves as a terminal. This is an Akkadian seal, c.2300-2200 B.C. It is well engraved and in excellent state of preservation.' 11 grams, 27mm (1").
Condition Very fine condition.
Provenance Property of a Connecticut, USA, collector; formerly in the collection of an English professional, Dr. S; acquired in London prior to 1985.
Footnotes Bulls and lions in quasi-human pose figure among the exotic creatures of the so-called proto-Elamite glyptic art of south-western Iran. They have been interpreted as personifying the elementary principles of world order. The figure of the bull-man, with human head and torso but taurine horns, lower body and legs, first appears in the second phase of the Early Dynastic Period, when the creature is to be seen very commonly on cylinder seals such as our example. The bull-man is usually shown in profile, with a single visible horn projecting forward. He appears singly, in pairs or even in triplicate, in contest scenes with rampant animals. Sometimes he is associated in his struggle with a human hero figure. Later the bull man would be represented in monumental sculpture guarding the doorways to temples and palaces, most notably in Achaemenid Persia, where he seems to have had a beneficial, protective role.