Winged Disk and the Tree of Life

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The owner of this seal can be identified from the cuneiform inscription which translates: 'Seal of Mushezib-Ninurta, governor, son of Ninurta-eresh, ditto, son of Samanuha-shar-ilani, ditto.' Samanuha-shar-ilani was ruler of Shadikanni (Arban in eastern Syria), in 883 BC, and an Assyrian vassal - subject to the firm control of Assyria, and enjoying the wealth and security that such political domination provided.

During this period, seal designs were often cut on hard stones using cutting-wheels and drills. The image is similar to two wall reliefs from the throne room of King Ashurnasirpal II (reigned 883-859 BC) at Nimrud. The king, shown in mirror image, is protected by guardian genii sprinkling holy water from a bucket using what may be a fir cone or sponge. A stylized tree stands in the centre, symbolizing nature and the land of Assyria. Above is a god in the winged disc.

Length: 4.9 cm
Diameter: 1.7 cm

Found by H.C. Rawlinson and acquired by The British Museum around 1852

D. Collon, First impressions: cylinder seals in the Ancient Near East (London, The British Museum Press, 1987), pp. 76-7, fig. 341

A.H. Layard, Discoveries in the ruins of Nineveh and Babylon (London, J. Murray, 1853), p. 603