Five Royal Seal Cylinders

By: Leon Legrain

Originally Published in 1922

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The Oldest Dated Royal Seal. The Seal of Basha-Enzu, B. C. 2900.

cylinder seal and impression showing text and three figures
Fig. 24. — Seal and impression. C.B.S. 5005.
Museum Object Number: B5005

Image Number: 6315

ART and history are interested in this small monument that haslain unconspicuous in the Collections of the Museum for over30 years. It is a limestone cylinder seal, 29 x 16″mm, that was bought by Dr. Haynes at Baghdad on Dec. 23, 1890. It has three figures and three lines of inscription engraved, and very likely is the oldest dated royal seal known. Its owner was Basha-Enzu, probably the first king of the IVth Kish dynasty, about B. C. 2990. Accordingly it antedates by four centuries the famous buffalo seal of King Sargani of Akkad, and fixes back toward the third millennium B. C. a standard of art known formerly as the Gudea style. Its proper name and location should be the style of the School of Ur, as Ménant would have it. All of which is of consequence for a closer study of the Moon God’s figure and of the rites of his worshiping at Ur.

Drawing of the inscription found on a cylinder seal

The inscription in the Akkadian language reads as follows:

Bá-ša d En-zu
Ikkar da-ra-ta Urîki
the neverfailing husbandman of Ur.

This title: Ikkar darata, is new. That it does really apply to a king reigning in another city, but whose dominion extended over Ur, will be proved by a comparison with the titles of the kings of Isin and Larsa. In this case it does apply to the only known king of that name Basha-Enzu, who according to a local tradition of Kish was the son of Azag-Bau, a woman wine merchant, undoubtedly a strong character, claimed to be the founder of the IVth Kish dynasty, and who died probably over hundred years old. Her son Bashu-Enzu reigned 25 years in Kish.

Why his title of king, lugal, of Kish is not recorded on his seal is not clear. We can only surmise that either he did not dare use the title of king, as regent of Ur, or more likely that his mother Azag-Bau being effectively ruler of Kish, he was associate coregent at Ur. This is not without parallel in history. When Gimil-Sin later on was king of Ur and of the four parts of the world, at the same time the city of Ur was under the control of a certain Lugal magurri with the title of patesi. And the very last Babylonian king Bêl-shar-usur was coregent with his father Nabu-na’id, according to the famous inscription discovered precisely at Ur. We should not be far from truth in supposing that the seal of Basha-Enzu was discovered in the ruins of Muqajjar.

Ikkaru, the husbandman, is just the counterpart of rê’u, (sib), the pastor, both used as titles for regent of cities. In connection with the names of cities enumerated as being under their dominion, the kings used various titles which are worth while considering. Royalty, nam-lugal, and pastorate, nam sib, are general terms that apply to the whole world, or to the four parts of the universe known to them. The great God of Nippur, Enlil, the lord of all lands, was trusted with the power to confer such a title. No real king, unless he was recognized as such at the central shrine of Nippur. Opposite to the title of king as a power over many cities, the title of patesi, was limited to one city. It carried along with it a religious meaning. The patesi was a prince, trustee of the god and head of the city that developed round a local shrine. No king would claim being a patesi, but he would have many patesis at the head of various cities of his empire. The next step was to make of them regular officials appointed once a year, while the king kept for himself the role of religious protector of the famous shrines of important cities. One king, Lugal kigub-nidudu states expressedly that he united into his hand religious, nam-en, and political power, nam-lugal-da. The high water mark of that tendency was to call and worship the king as a god. Naram-Sin was called the God of Akkad. Divination was a regular process under the kings of the III Ur dynasty. We may remember it in time when we have to decide whether the figure of the king or that of the Moon God is represented on their seal cylinders.

The various titles of protectors of cities are not used indiscriminately. They are either of civil or of more purely religious import. Civil titles are pastor: sib, nakid; caretaker: úa; supporter: sagus; husbandman: engar. Purely religious titles are connected with priest, diviner, interpreter: en, me, isib, ninni-nu-tum, sag-li-tar. The kings of Isin were usually pastors of Nippur and Ur, and priests at Eridu and Uruk. Two of them instead of pastors of Ur, use precisely the same title of husbandman, engar, as Basha Enzu. They are Kings Bur-Sin and Libit-Ishtar of Isin, the strong or faithful husbandmen of -Ur. The same title again is claimed by Nur-Immer and Rim-Sin of the Larsa dynasty.

Neverfailing or everlasting husbandman: ikkar darata, is an old uncommon Akkadian form. Expressions like: my eternal lordship, belutija darâti; everlasting days, Lime darati, are known. But the form, darata, is isolated, and not found outside of the proper name Darata-a-a. A rare name, d Dungi-sib-dari, Dungi the eternal pastor is anyhow built in the same manner.

Before describing the scene engraved in the classical style of the School of Ur, we may remember that all the kings of Isin, pastors or husbandmen of Ur, were by special favor and in a mystic way: beloved husband of the Goddess Ninni, the Ishtar of Uruk—dam kiag dNinni. The wife of the Moon God worshiped along with him in the temple of Ur, was Ningal, the great lady mother of Ur. But Ninni-Ishtar was his daughter. Under the name of Nin insina, she was like her mother called the great lady, mother of the land, ningal, amakalama. Hammurabi traces his royal descent to the Moon God, he has a special care for the city of Ur, and is a great favourite with his famous daughter Ishtar.

The most natural and frequent design of the School of Ur represents the approach of one or more worshiper to a seated god. The scene has been neatly summed up with its details by W. H. Ward. The seated god is a dignified figure in a long garment, usually flounced, with a horned turban, either two horned or many horned (braided), and with a long beard and one hand lifted, perhaps holding a vase or a rod and a ring. In the oldest form a naked worshiper carries a goat as offering, while a female servant, clothed in a long shawl, follows with a pail. In the simplest form a single worshiper stands before the gad, with or without a goat. More usually there are 2 or 3 or 4 approaching figures. Frequently the worshiper is led to the god by the hand held by a female figure. Both of them are holding their free hand up in token of worship. They may be followed by another female figure holding up both hands in the same attitude of worship, or perhaps by a servant often nude carrying a pail or basket for an offering.

The worshiper is usually shaven and beardless, and wears a fringed shawl. The standing and leading female figures are clothed in a flounced garment, or a simpler plaited robe. Their headdress is the high pointed horned turban or crown worn by the gods. And so they are in fact. The seated god always wears the rich flounced garment. He is never shaven. His horned headdress is replaced in the Gudea period by a plain and low turban worn by the kings. His long beard is hanging on his breast.

A crescent of the flat style as an emblem on the field, is more frequent in the early art. Later the crescent is nearer a half circle.

On the most remarkable cylinders of this style, the seal cylinder of the Ur-Engur the founder of the III Ur dynasty, the god’s seat shows special features in the shape of ox’s legs and a back which are unusual but not unique.

The new cylinder affords us a more complete survey of the style of Ur and its evolution for over six centuries. We will study in details: garments, thrones, headdresses, crescents, bulls, gods and goddesses, represented on the cylinder seals of Ur, and try to reach some conclusions as to the meaning of changes occurring in time.

Garments. There was a regular scale of garment from the richest royal cloth down to the simplest loin cloth. The richest woolen cloth, the kaunakes of the Greek tradition, was used for flounced robes, as worn by the more important and seated god. The goddess leading the worshiper may be clothed in the same rich material. Which would lead us to suspect that she is the wife of the god, or a special high ranking protector of the worshiper. Gudea was led by his private god Ningis-zida. The next sort of cloth serves to make the long plaited robes of attendant goddesses. The worshiper usually wears a long plain fringed shawl, opening in front, or rather thrown over his first garment or shirt reaching to the knee, and held round the waist by a belt. The servant, if not nude, would wear a short loin cloth. So runs the scale of dignitaries as expressed by garments.

Thrones. More than ten years ago we pointed out that a special throne with four legs, no back, and covered with three rows of woolen kaunakes, is a marked feature of the Ur style, first found under King Dungi of the III Ur dynasty, and which disappears with the ruins of the same dynasty. Ur-Engur the head of the same dynasty still retained a throne with ox’s legs and a back, on his seal. The goddess on the seal of Basha-Enzu is seated on an old fashion cubic throne showing three legs on one side.

Headdresses. The classical headdress of the gods—when not bare headed or wearing a feather crown as on the most archaic seals or reliefs—is the high horned turban. The plain flat turban of Gudea is a human headdress. On the head of the gods it is a sort of breaking off the tradition. In connection with the new style of throne mentioned above, and adopted at the same time, it can be explained only by the actual worship of the king of Ur as a god, and his identification with the Moon God. Where the seated figure, instead of the bearded Moon God, shows an entirly shaven and shorn man, we did not hesitate to see in it a portrait of King Ibi Sin—C. B. S. 12570. The same low turban was kept later on for the figures of Martu the National Amurru God.

Crescents. Early flat crescents are undergoing a change to a semicircular form, at the same time as flat turban and kaunakes covered thrones appear on the seals. The crescent is the proper emblem of the Moon God, the very picture of the new moon. It is so much like the horn of a bull, that the God himself is called the brilliant young bull of heaven.

Bulls. Seal cylinders with a bull passing or jumping into the lap of the god, are very rare, and early. In a few examples the god will sit with a bull crouching under his feet, another above his hand, a third behind him. Or perhaps a crouching or passing bull will fill the field under a short inscription. Such a bull is doubtless intended as a symbol of the Moon God. It is very different of the wild bull led through a ring in the nose by the thunder god Adad, and often, almost regularly in connection with the lightning fork. The Moon God bull, is not the roaring bull of storm, but the crouching animal enclosed in the park. At evening, when the gates of night are opened it will get up and wander through the pastures of heaven. In very old and rare cylinder seals we find a bull crouching in front of a winged gate. Gilgamesh with one knee down holds very tight, the cord keeping the door closed. In front of this symbolic group is seated not a god but a goddess.

Gods and Goddess. The seal of Basha-Enzu, a devotee and servant of the Moon God according to his name, has a figure not of the god with the long lapis-lazuli beard, but of a goddess, clothed with the woolen kaunakes and wearing the horned headdress. In front of her is a passing bull. The scene is in the best Ur style, and savours of the rites of the Moon God. She may be a figure of Ningal, the great lady mother of Ur, or perhaps of Ninni-Ishtar daughter of the Moon God. The difficulty in deciding this point, comes from the fact that the symbols—and the animal figures—are more important, and preceded in the course of times the human figurations of various gods. The seated god is always the same dignified figure in a long flounced garment and may represent according to cases either the Sun God Shamash, or the Moon God Sin, or the God Ningirsu of Lagash.

The fact of being enthroned is important and apply chiefly to the main gods patrons of great cities. On seals of King Dungi of the III Ur Dynasty, the fire god Nusku, the god of pestilence Meslamtaè, are represented as standing with various emblems. But they were secondary gods attached to the court of a main deity. The throne is precisely the symbol of the god, head and king of a big court or shrine.

We realize by the scene engraved on the present seal that such a system of constituted priesthood round a main shrine was well developed as early as 3000 B. C. But they could never supersede the old traditional identification with so many animal forms, preserved later as symbols of the gods.

Another consequence of this study is that all cylinders with figures dressed with the early Sumerian petticoat, or showing any preference for animal fights or hunting scenes, or mythological scenes, have to be placed in scale of time before 3000 B. C.


Two Royal Seal Cylinders of the First Dynasty of Babylon, Sumuabum and Zabum, B.C. 2050-1996

cylinder seal and impression, showing text on either side of three figures
Fig. 25. — Seal and impression. C.B.S. 1111.
Museum Object Number: B1111
Image Number: 6316

Outside the relief on the Code Stela and some seal impressions and reliefs of the time Hammurabi, the first Dynasty of Babylon has left us, so far, few monuments. Two seals of that Dynasty in the Museum collection are interesting as belonging to earlier kings, even to the time when the Dynasty was first founded. They supply a new standard of the art of engraving then prevailing, and confirm what we knew about the history of the land, when Babylon was a new capital, for a new race, the Western Semites, the Amorites.

One is a seal cylinder cut in very dark green serpentine, 20 1/2 x 11 1/2mm. It was bought by Drs. Peter and Harper in Baghdad, on January, 1889.

Drawing of inscription on seal

The inscription reads

Warad Su-mu-a-bu-um
Servant of Sumuabum

Sumuabu was the founder of the first Babylonian Dynasty and reigned 15 years.

Cylinder seal and impression showing text and two or three figures, crude
Fig. 26. — Seal and impression. C.B.S. 8978.
Museum Object Number: B8978
Image Number: 6317

The other is a seal cylinder carelessly cut in a reddish limestone, 20 x 16mm It was bought, probably in 1891, by Dr. Peters at Shatra, and was supposed to come from Tello.

Drawing on inscription on seal

The inscription reads

I-bi il Sin
mār Za-bu-um šarru
son of King Zabum.

Zabum was the third king of the same dynasty and reigned 14 years.

The scene engraved on the seal of Dagania represents the worshiping of a god. It is a classical scene of the old Sumero-Akkadian school, but with features of its own, betraying the new Amorite spirit prevailing in the land.

The god is standing up, holding the forked thunderbolt, his bare leg, issuing from the long flounced garment, and resting on a low stool, or a conventional form of hills in shape of two curved horns. In his left hand he carries a crooked stick or scimitar. He wears the horned divine headdress. His hair is long and looped. His beard is not very clearly designed. This is a figure of Adad-Ramman, the Amorite god of thunder, in the role and attitude usually reserved to the Sun god Shamash, rising, notched weapon in hand, over the eastern mountain. The engraver trained in the old school, only changed the weapon in the hand of that most familiar figure. When Adad is more completely represented according to Amorite ideal, he is a short skirted warrior, standing on a bull, one hand holding the thunderbolt the other brandishing his hammer, axe, or scimitar over his head, while in many cases he is leading the bull through a cord attached in the nose.

The worshiper stands in front of the god, one hand held up in front of his face, expressing adoration, the other hand keeping closed his long fringed garment. His head is covered with a plain flat turban, like the one of King Hammurabi, whose attitude he resembles closely. A second worshiper, perhaps a servant, dressed in the same way, follows in the rear, with hands modestly clasped.

Flounced garments and horned headdresses are usually reserved to gods, while men wear plain low turbans and fringed shawls. At the time of the III Ur Dynasty, the kings worshiped as gods are represented on their seals as wearing turbans and fringed shawls. In the same manner, when the Amorite influence was prevalent, the engraver would easily represent their national god Martu, as a short skirted warrior, wearing the turban, and holding his club. It is remarkable that this new Martu style appears mainly on seal cylinders of hematite, or natural iron ore, as if the discovery of iron could ever account for the supremacy of the Amorites.

On the seal of Dagania, the western god Adad, is still dressed in the old Sumero-Akkadian style. The city of Babylon was just recently made a capital by the Amorite chieftain Sumuabum. Da-gania which means 0 my god Dagan is an invocation to another western god Dagon. Two kings of Isin before had invoked the same deity: Ishme-Dagan, and Idin-Dagan. But the times were not yet ripe when the kings of Babylon would rule the whole land of Sumer and Akkad, and secure the triumph of their own western god Marduk. The list of years of King Sumuabum shows that he was a devoted servant and probably a vassal of the Sumerian god of Ur. It was reserved to his successors to destroy in turn the kingdoms of Isin in the north, and Larsa in the south, and to found the supremacy of Babylon.

Anyhow so far as art, civilisation, even religion are concerned that supremacy means not the beginning, but the end of the brilliant and genuine Sumero Akkadian culture. The famous code is no exception, being the summing up of all standards, rules and customs enforced by tradition. The Amorites adopted the older and superior civilisation. Their own contribution is of a rather poor quality, as shown by their style of engraving and writing. Syncretism is their most conspicuous characteristic. Copying and compiling hymns, prayers, legends, myths, in honor of Marduk and Nebo, was the great affair in the temples of Babylon and Borsippa. But the creative power is gone.

The Amorites fixed in the land for centuries at the time of the old Sargon, were soldiers, businessmen, farmers, but altogether a low class. Only by degrees they gained the overhand. Their gods Martu, igtar, irra, were usually written without the divine prefix, the star. They had to learn to play their part in the attire of the old Sumero-Akkadian gods. In many cases they were ungainly enough and the engraver did not know to what extent to break with the old tradition to satisfy his new customers.

The kingdom of Sumuabum did not include more than a few cities Babylon, Kish, Dilbat, Sippar. Sumulailu his successor was considered as the real effective foundator of the Dynasty. During 36 years he was most active cutting and repairing canals, walls of cities, temples. He captured and ruined the cities of Kish and Kazallu, built six fortresses on the borders, and began a codification of laws.

Constructions and restorations were carried on by his son and grand son: Zabum and Apil-Sin. Our second seal, a very poor example of the art of engraving belongs to a certain Ibi-Sin son of King Zabum, and probably a brother of the crown prince Apil-Sin. They can scarcely be identified. The word for son: aplu in the Semitic language, is the translation of a Sumerian word ibila (written dumu-us). Ibi or Ibil is perhaps the Sumero-Akkadian for the Amorite apil. This minor problem of philology may have some historical consequence.

The scene of adoration engraved on the seal, is very conventional, a standing goddess in a flounced garment, and wearing the horned headdress, extends one hand of welcome toward the worshiper. There is a crescent in the field, as it well suits a devotee of the Moon God Sin, and a scorpion which may help to identify the goddess, with a western Ishtar or Ishara.


The Oldest Cassite Royal Seal

And the Cassite War God Shugamuna

Cylinder seal and impression showing a line of figures with text surrounding them, on two levels, repeated
Fig. 27. — Seal and Impression. C.B.S. 1108.
Museum Object Number: B1108
Image Number: 6320

The oldest Cassite royal seal cylinder so far known, bearing the earliest contemporary record of the Cassite Wargod Shugamuna and very likely a unique representation of the same, was entered in the collections of the Museum—C. B. S. No. 1108—on May 30, 1895. This minor monument, inscribed with the name of king Karaindash’s son, about B. C. 1450, is highly interesting for history, art and archaeology.1

Drawing of inscription on seal

The inscription in the Sumerian language reads as follows:

d Šu-ga-mu-na
umun pa-è
ḫa-zu-ta ḫe-nir
aš me-zuḫu-sig
Iz-gur il Marduk
dumu Ka-ra-in-da-[aš]
išib ni-tuk-zu
God Shugamuna
brilliant lord
with thy support may he come forth
through thy decree may he prosper
son of Karaindash
the libator revering thee

This cylinder is cut in a brown agate, 34½mm x 15mm. The place of its discovery is unknown. It was bought together with
16 others from different persons in Baghdad, but chiefly through the dealer Khabaza, and therefore included in Kh2 collection. It is engraved with 7 lines of inscription, and 14 figures distributed in 2 registers and 5 groups very much alike representing the war god with worshiper and intermediary goddess.

To the present day only four Cassite socalled royal seal cylinders have been known, and held up as a standard of the Cassite style of engraving. They are all about one century younger than this seal, being inscribed with the names of kings Kurigalzu and Burnaburiash. The last one, a seal cylinder in white chalcedony that belongs to the Metropolitan Museum of New York, No. 391 —the only one in this country—was published as early as 1896 in the first volume of the Babylonian Expedition. Moreover three of these seal cylinders out of four bear the names of servants or high officials of the kings. Only one preserved in the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris, No. 296 can compare with the one in the University Museum as being inscribed with the name of a son of the king: Shirishti the governor (gakkanakku), son of Kurigalzu.

Izgur Marduk the son of Karaindash claims to be a libator of the god Shugamuna, a war god, a national protector of the Cassite people and dynasty. It is remarkable that his name anyhow is properly a Babylonian name meaning: “he has invoked Marduk.” This fact of a purely Babylonian name, devised as a prayer to Marduk the great god of Babylon, and given to a royal Cassite prince, who by profession and on his own seal cylinder is acting as high priest of the Cassite national God Shugamuna, is better explained by comparing it with what we know of the history of the Cassite in the XVth Century B. C.

Karaindash is the first Cassite king of whom we have contemporary records. No remains have been excavated so far that antedate his time. His name was first found stamped on a brick, probably from Warka, where he restored the Temple of Ninni, Ishtar of Uruk. All later Babylonian Chronicles begin with him. They state how Karaindash king of the country of Karduniash (Babylon) passed a treaty with Ashur-rim-nishishu king of Assur. So did after him another Cassite king Burnaburiash pass a treaty with an Assyrian king named Puzur-Assur. In a famous Tel-Amarna letter, No. 10, the same Burraburiash writing to the Egyptian king Amenaphis IV, traces back the first relations between Egypt and Babylon to the time of his ancestor Karaindash. And we have to bear this in mind.

Indeed the history of the Cassite before Karaindash would be a perfect blank were it not for an inscription of King Agum II who reigned about two centuries before, and which has been preserved in a later Assyrian copy of Ashurbanipal library at Nineveh. Old king Agum calls himself the illustrious descendant of the God Shugamuna. Then he goes on to say that he is elected by Anu, Enlil, Ea, Marduk, Sin, Shamash, Ishtar, the Babylonian gods. He is first of all king of the Cassite; and subsequently of the lands of Akkad, Babylon, Ashnunak, Padan and Guti, a king of the world. Anyhow, all due respect paid to the Cassite God Shugamuna, the trend of the present inscription is toward the glorification of Marduk of Babylon and his wife Sarpanitum, whose statues have been just brought back from captivity at Hana a distant city on the river Euphrates, and settled magnificently in their newly restored shrine of Esagila in Babylon. A full and gorgeous description follows detailing the treasuries of gold, silver and precious stones lavished upon them, together with the endowments of fields and orchards attached to the temple.

The migration of the statues of Marduk and Sarpanitum to Hana, was the consequence of the plundering of the city by the Hittite tribes in the XVIII Century B. C. That invasion probably put an end to the first, or Amorite Dynasty of Babylon, so well illustrated by the great constructive works of King Hammurabi. A Babylonian Chronicle states that: Against Samsuditana and the land of Akkad, the Hatti moved on. Akkad is an older name for North Babylonia, Samsuditana is the last king on record belonging to the first Dynasty, and the Hatti are generally identified with the Hittite whose main capital was at Bogaz-koy in Asia Minor. After the sack of Babylon the plundering troops retired, and a portion of them settled down farther north on the banks of the Euphrates at Hana, the actual Tell Ishar, near Salhije, south of the Chaboras river, where the statues of the Babylonian gods were detained over a century.

The control of Southern Babylonia, on the shore of the Persian Gulf was in the hands of a Sumerian Dynasty long before and after the Hittite invasion. It is the second Babylonian Dynasty of the royal lists, called after its geographical position the Dynasty of the Country of the Sea. Babylon itself and the land round of it fell to the lot of the Cassite, who were going to rule the old Ham-murabi empire for nearly six centuries, as the third Babylonian Dynasty.

But historical conditions were totally altered. The 18th Century B. C. was a time of great commotions and wandering of tribes and people. As the Hittite were moving from the West along the Euphrates, so were the Cassite coming down the high lands of Persia in the East across the Tigris. Whether the impulse was given to them by an invasion of their own land at the hands of Arian tribes from the Caspian and Aral regions, or whether they have any relation to the Hyksos invaders of Egpyt is beyond the scope of the present article. Only one point is beyond question: The Cassite were neither Indogermans nor Semites, they bear no resemblance to the Elamites or the Sumerians. Assyrian scribes had compiled lists of Cassite words, with an Assyrian translation, as a means of understanding better their foreign and raucous names. As late as 703 B. C. King Sennacherib found the Cassite in the Zagros mountains near Ellip, the high valley of the Susa river. They were practically astride the main mountain pass leading from Babylon to Ecbatana by Behistun. In the days of Alexander the Great they could mobilize a body of 13,000 archers, and even the Persian kings used to pay a tribute to them as they crossed their lands on their way from Babylon to their summer residence at Ecbatana. Under the successors of Hammurabi they were probably foreign mercenary troops, and as the power escaped the weak hands of Samsuditana, Babylon fell to the share of the Cassite chieftain. The scarcity of historical and archaeological remains of the period that followed immediately, bears witness to the desolated condition of the land. It is not clear either that the Cassite rulers left at once their mountain residence to fix down in the ruined city of Babylon. They may have governed it at a distance through their prefects, as the Susian kings had done before, or the Persian kings after. But the recovery and attraction of the old Culture land was too rapid and strong, that they should resist it very long. The inscription of Agum II, with all its Cassite particularism, shows most evidently that Marduk was coming back in its own. Two centuries later the process is just the reverse. All reservations in favor of the Cassite people and god are gone. Kara-indash calls himself : the powerful king, the King of Babylon, the King of Sumer and Akkad, the King of the Cassite and of Karduniash. Under his successors the title of king of the Cassite is omitted. And his son, the owner of the actual seal, bears a purely Babylonian name, which is an invocation to Marduk. In the same way Alexander was to forget his Greek virtue and energy amidst the splendours and luxuries of Babylon, the old unconquered meretrix.

This seems to lead to the natural conclusion that Karaindash was the first Cassite ruler to settle effectively down in Babylon, the first to develop official relations with Egypt, and with the neighbour growing power of Assyria, and probably other minor kings of Mitanni, and Hatti lands.

His relations with Assyria are of particular interest, as they were soon to oppose in sharp conflict the new Babylonian tendencies with the old conservative Cassite spirit still alive chiefly among the troops. By the same time the Babylonian Chronicles, our main source of information, make it dubious whether there were one or two Cassite kings named Karaindash. They state that : At the time of Ashur-Uballit, king of Assyria, and Karabardash, king of Karduniash (Babylon), son of Muballitat-Sherua, a daughter of Ashur-uballit, the Cassite revolted, killed Karahardash, and appointed a new ruler a son of Nobody. The Assyrian king to avenge Karaindash, went down with an army in Babylonia, killed the intruder, and established the young Kurigalzu as king of Babylon. Another Chronicle instead of Karahardash, mentions a certain Kadashman-Harbe, as the son of Karaindash and Mubal-litat-Sherua, the daughter of the Assyrian king. Outside the difference of the names, the account of the murdering and avenging of the Cassite king by his grandfather, the king of Assyria, is the same as in the first Chronicle.

Our Izgur-Marduk is very likely not a brother of Karahardash or Kadashman-Harbe, not a son of the younger Karaindash, but the son of the older Karaindash who passed a treaty with an older Assyrian king Ashur-rim-nishishu. Between the two Karaindash, a Cassite ruler of the name of Kadashman-Harbe was the well-known correspondent of Amenophis III of the El-Amarna letters.

The Egyptian influence that manifested itself in Mesopotamia as a consequence of the conquests of Thutmes III of the XVIII Dynasty in Syria, has been traced back through the El-Amarna letters to the Cassite king Karaindash the first. Messengers used to go from one court to the other. But the effect of that influence in art was felt only by degrees. The four Cassite royal cylinders known to the present day show a notable change in shape and size as compared with the seal cylinders of the Ist Babylonian Dynasty. They affect a long religious inscription of 7 or 8 lines, with often only a single figure in the attitude of worship accompanied by symbols. The space for figures being limited they admit at the most a god and a worshiper. Among the new emblems the most remarkable are the Greek Cross, and the losange.

Outside the shape, the quality of the agate stone in which it is cut, and the 7 lines of votive inscription upon it, the seal cylinder of Izkur-Marduk shows six groups of a scene devised in the best Babylonian style. In fact it is a compromise between the old and the new style, just as the Babylonian name of the prince is somewhat clashing with his functions of high priest libator of the Cassite national God Shugamuna. This is the best argument for attributing the seal to a son of the old Karaindash.

The inscription seems to have been the main inspiration con tributed to the engraving of the seal. The monotonous repetition of the same scene of adoration, with its distribution in two registers and an unequal grouping of figures, is very awkward, and suggestive of filling up a blank between the lines. As it appears in its most replete form it represents the God standing up between and receiving the adoration of the worshiper and the intermediary Goddess, each one of them facing the God in turn according to the register. The same alternative prevails where the scene is reduced two figures.

Goddess and worshiper are dressed according to the most approved Babylonian style, the Goddess with the better flounced gown and high horned mitre, the worshiper with the simpler fringed shawl and round turban. Both have the same gesture of adoration expressed by the two hands raised to the level of their face.

The God who receives their adoration is an active god, as manifested by his attitude. He wears a short garment to the knees, over which is thrown a long shawl covering the left shoulder, and retained with the left hand. The right arm is left bare ready for action. And were it to represent the God Marduk the right hand would grasp the crooked scimitar, the particular weapon of that god. Most remarkably no one of the six figures of the god carries the scimitar. The left leg is protruding out of the shawl, as usual in the representations of an active god like Shamash or Adad the God of the rising sun, and the god of storm and thunder. The turban of the present god is not like the mitre of the Goddess adorned with several pairs of horns, but at the utmost with one pair, just like the famous Nebo statue discovered at Nimrud, or even more exactly like the basalt head of a God of the Cassite period preserved in the Berlin Museum.

That somewhat conventional figure of a god belongs to a new series of reliefs introduced into the Babylonian art at the time of the Ist Dynasty of Babylon. Together with another short skirted figure with or without a mace, and the first appearance of the naked goddess, they betray Amorite or Western influence prevalent with the rise into power of the Amurru race under King Hammurabi. The God Martu, the national God of the Amurru people is never represented otherwise than as a short skirted hero with a round cap holding a mace or a crooked stick.

In the present case mace and stick have been significantly omitted, as was the scimitar too. That strange active god is neither Marduk, nor Martu. It does not require much effort to see in him an international figure of the Cassite National God Shugamuna.

The name of Shugamuna is found here for the first time inscribed on a seal cylinder as a direct invocation of that god. It is found so far on no other document of the kind. Names compounded with that sacred name like: Izkur Shugamuna, are found on clay tablets, and without being very frequent are met with on clay documents of that period, with half a dozen of Izkur-Marduk who are all but sons of Karaindash.

The owner of the present seal Izgur-Marduk—spelling his name with a g—is not only a prince son of Karaindash, but a libator—isippu—a priest of the God Shuhamuna. This is no common calling. Not only from the earliest dawn of history were Sumerian, Babylonian and later Assyrian kings anxious to perform with their own hands the ceremonies of the cult, and to pour down the libation, but in the full list of officials attached to the person of the God Ningirsu, according to the Gudea Cylinders, we realise that the first dignitaries of the heavenly court were the two sons of the king god: One Galalim was coregent, the second Dunshagga was a priest of purifications and libations. How much all this is consonant with the actual position of Izgur Marduk at the court of his father Karaindash.

On a kudurru, or boundary stone discovered at Susa and belonging to a later Cassite period among other emblems is seen the representation of a weapon, a mace with a square head inscribed with the name of d[Shu-ga]-mu-na. The Cassite War God was identified in Babylon with Nergal an infernal god of death and pestilence, and Nusku a god of burning fire. His wife was Shumalia the Cassite Goddess, the lady of the shining snowclad mountains, dwelling on high, under whose steps fountains are springing. The goddess in high flounced gown is perhaps Shumalia. Both are called the protecting gods of the king and of his lands, gods of war, who stand for the sanctity of treaties, and will convict the lawbreaker before the king and his nobles, and pile on him calamities and disasters. Together with the Nergal those Cassite Gods took rank in the Babylonian ritual and were duly invoked in the ceremonies of purification.

The dated seal cylinder of their priest Izgur Marduk the son of King Karaindash is a good proof of their fame as national gods among their own people towards B. C. 1450, and supplies by the same time a new test for an estimate of Babylonian art in a period of restoration.


The Seal Cylinder of King Kurigalzu, about B. C. 1390

cylinder seal and impression showing one large figure and many columns of inscriptions
Fig. 28. — Seal and impression. C.B.S. 1062.
Museum Object Number: B1062
Image Number: 6321

The peculiar Cassite style of engraving is known thanks to four seal cylinders of sons or servants of kings Burnaburiash and Kurigalzu. But it is the Museum privilege to possess the very seal_of this last king himself. It is cut in an impure brown carnelian chalcedony, 32 x 14mm The stone was bought by the Drs. Peters and Harper, at Baghdad, Janv. 1889.

drawing on inscription on seal

The text, in the Sumerian language reads as follows:

mu-pad-da an-ta-he-zid
par-gal lugal-a-ni ta he-nir šu
giš-šub-ba-bi he-nun nig-tug . . .
til-la ki-sud he-nam bi (?)
ud-šar an-zi-ug (?)
gal-ukkin-na mulu sag . . .
lugal ki-šar-ra.
may the name revealed, progress on high,
so that the net of his royalty might reach farther;
his lot is abundance, richness . .
his life far renowned for its fullness;
a plentitude of days heavenly bright
for the great leader of men, the chief . . .
king of the whole world.

The seal is reduced to a single standing worshiper, a conventional figure, perhaps intended for the king himself. He lifts one hand up in token of prayer or adoration. He wears a plain flat turban, a long beard, a straight fringed garment. The usual emblems are a cross inscribed within a cross, and two rhombs, perhaps intended for a symbol of sun and land, heaven and earth, the two twin universes.

L. L.

1Published by H. A. Ward Seal Cylinders of W. Asia, No. 473, with a wrong quotation C. B. S. as 1118, and a poor commentary.

Cite This Article

Legrain, Leon. "Five Royal Seal Cylinders." The Museum Journal XIII, no. 1 (March, 1922): 60-78. Accessed July 22, 2024.

This digitized article is presented here as a historical reference and may not reflect the current views of the Penn Museum.

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