Neo-Assyrian Chalcedony Cylinder Seal, C. 8th-7th Century BC


Neo-Assyrian Chalcedony Cylinder Seal, C. 8th-7th Century BC


A presentation scene depicted between two border lines; to the right stands the goddess Ishtar, the most important female deity of ancient Mesopotamia, wearing a horned, cylindrical headdress with a globe on the top, her hair falling to her shoulders, with a single plait to her waist, she wears a long tiered and striated open robe over a kilt and there is a sword at her waist. The right hand of the goddess is extended, the palm facing outward and in her outstretched left hand she holds a circlet. As is the common method of depicting a divine character in the Mesopotamian world, she stands with her right leg advanced, and placed on the back of her recumbent lion attribute.


Behind the goddess stands a female worshipper, wearing a long fringed robe, different to that of the goddess, with short upturned hair and conical headdress. She holds a group of pomegranates in her outstretched left hand whereas her right hand is extended with palm up. In the ground above the woman is a seven pointed star and the spade of Marduk. Above and in front of the goddess is the vertical wedge or stylus of Nabu and a winged solar disc representing the main Assyrian god, Ashur. Streamers emanate down from the disc, below which is an ‘omega’ symbol, the divine emblem associated with Ishtar, and thereafter a large offering table with crossed legs, bedecked with a long cloth and a cup. Opposite the goddess stand two bearded worshippers, both wearing long fringed robes and conical hats, their hair shoulder-length, their right hand raised, the index finger extended, their left hand cupped, palm upwards. Above them, in the upper field is a crescent moon, representing the god Sin.

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