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Chalcedony Cylinder Seal of a Lion-Dragon, Middle Assyrian, 1300 - 1200 BC

Combining zoomorphic elements, this lively composition shows a fierce lion-dragon, the gaping mouth exposing long pointed teeth, the head is turned slightly to show horns on the top of the head. The body of the creature is lithe, there is a luxuriant mane and large wings, carefully incised to delineate different layers of feathers, it's powerful front claws are outstretched and unsheathed, ready to pounce and the back legs, portrayed with heavy musculature to the rump are outstretched. The scaled tail terminates in a scorpion sting.

Directly above this ferocious beast is a seven dot inscription identified as the symbol of the Sebittu or Seven gods representing the pleiades; an eight pointed star for Inana/Istar, goddess of love and war, alongside a recumbent crescent moon, symbol of the moon god Sin (Nanna-Suen), considered to have magically protective power. Facing the lion-dragon is the feather-robed and turbaned figure of Ashur, chief god of Assyria, shown superimposed on a winged solar disc.

Background: A period of cultural flowering and exchange developed in Mesopotamia after a dark age that followed the destruction of Babylon in 1595 B.C. The emergence of the Assyrians as a political power in northern Mesopotamia during the fourteenth century B.C foreshadowed the ascendancy that culminated in the world empire of the first millennium B.C. That phase of history, which falls into the latter half of the second millennium B.C., is called the Middle Assyrian period to distinguish it from the Old Assyrian period (early part of the second millennium B.C.) and from the Neo-Assyrian period (first third of the first millennium B.C.).

Condition: Small lower edge chip and with other minor chips to the edges that do not detract from the scene, otherwise the seal is intact and in excellent condition overall, with remains of a bronze pin still down the central drilled core. Museum quality custom mount.

Dimensions: Height: 1.5 inches (3.81 cm), 38.1 mm

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