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Identification and Creation
Object Number
1984.815
Title
Scaraboid Stamp Seal: Lioness Carrying Prey
Classification
Seals
Work Type
seal
Date
400-300 BCE
Period
Classical period
Culture
Achaemenid
Persistent Link
https://hvrd.art/o/289054
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Chalcedony
Technique
Intaglio
Dimensions
1.6 x 2.3 cm (5/8 x 7/8 in.)
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Jerome B. Spier in honor of Professor Hanfmann
Accession Year
1984
Object Number
1984.815
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
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Descriptions
Description
This chalcedony scaraboid stamp seal features an image of a lioness carrying the severed limb of an animal, probably a stag. The modeling of the lioness’ body is flat yet detailed, with musculature visible on her hindquarters and chest. Her mouth is open, and the haunch of a hooved animal is in the opening.

There are a few other seals featuring images of feeding lions (1), though these show the lion eating rather than carrying its prey. The pose of the walking lioness is reminiscent of images on other seals, including a seal attested on the bullae from Daskyleion (2), a gold signet ring found at Sardis in a tomb of Achaemenid date (3), and an Achaemenid cylinder seal found in a tomb on the northern Black Sea coast (4). This latter seal was found with a coin of Lysimachus (king of Thrace and parts of Asia Minor c. 306-281 BCE). This suggests a fourth century BCE date for this seal. This date receives further support from similar imagery of the walking lion that occurs on the reverse of the silver coins issued by Mazaeus at Babylon c. 331-328 BCE (5).

NOTES

1. Examples in J. Boardman, Greek Gems and Finger Rings: Early Bronze Age to Late Classical (London, 1970) fig. 312, no. 970; idem., “The Danicourt Gems in Péronne,” Revue archéologique (1971) no. 12.

2. D. Kaptan, The Daskyleion Bullae: Seal Images from the Western Achaemenid Empire (Leiden, 2002) no. 46.

3. E. R. M. Dusinberre, Empire, Authority, and Autonomy in Achaemenid Anatolia (Cambridge, 2013) 155-6 fig. 80.

4. Now in St. Petersburg; D. Collon, First Impressions: Cylinder Seals in the Ancient Near East (Chicago, 1987) no. 432; Boardman, Greek Gems, no. 878.

5. E.g. O. Mørkholm, Early Hellenistic Coinage from the Accession of Alexander to the Peace of Apamea, 336-186 B.C. (Cambridge, 1991) pl. 2.28.

This record was created from historic documentation and may not have been reviewed by a curator; it may be inaccurate or incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu