Gulf region (ancient Dilmun)
Steatite or chlorite
H. 1/2 in. (1.27 cm)
Gift of Martin and Sarah Cherkasky, 1987 (1987.96.22)
The earliest stone seals of the Gulf region were made of steatite hardened by firing and often glazed after they were carved. The impression of the hemispherical stamp seal depicted here shows a male figure in the upper field who grasps a caprid by the neck. To the left, a male figure holds a staff. Below, a recumbent caprid reclines beneath a gridded rectangle. A snake and perhaps a monkey(?) are also depicted in the field. The hemispherical form and round sealing face are typical of seals of the Gulf region, as are the incised lines and concentric circles that decorate the back of this seal. Similar seals have been found in Mesopotamia, Iran, and the Indus Valley, areas with which Gulf merchants traded and with whom they shared a common visual vocabulary.