Artifact 3

Assyrian Cylinder Seal

“By around 8,000 years ago, humans were using symbols to represent words and concepts. As seen in this Assyrian lapis lazuli cylinder seal from Bablyon, Iraq, cylinder seals were rolled across wet clay tablet to produce raised designs. True forms of writing developed over the next few thousand years.”

Image Credit: Chip Clark, Smithsonian Institution

Assyrian Cylinder Seal

Exhibit Item at Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Site: Babylon, Iraq

Contemporary Technology: Ink Stamp

The contemporary partner to the Assyrian Cylinder Seal is more or less the ink stamp (shown left). While not an exact companion, as the cylinder seals were the Assyrian way of writing in general, the stamp is an easier comparison than say pen and paper, as there is an ancient companion to that. The method in which the cylinder seal progressed to the ink stamp, while not necessarily linear, does show in the essence of the two objects. The cylinder seals were etched cylinders with writing on them pressed into wet clay and produced a design; much like the way ink stamps are etched pieces of rubber ink-dipped and pressed onto the object of choice.