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Collections | Ancient Near Eastern Seals & Tablets

Views: List | Single work | Overview Zoom+ Rotate iconRotate seal
Cylinder seal image

A Winged Hero Contesting with a Lion for a Bull
Cylinder seal and impression
Mesopotamia, Neo-Babylonian period
(ca.1000–539B.C.)
Carnelian
38.5 x 18 mm
Seal no. 747
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In the miniature space on the surface of this seal, the artist created a contest of monumental proportions: a demonic lion faces a winged superhuman hero. The lion's threatening gesture and the tension of his sharp claws suggest his evil power. But the hero will prevail. Taller than the lion, he calmly dominates it, and the bull—the victim of the contest— remains in his power. The smooth muscular forms of the heroic figure are set off by his carefully detailed and ornamented flounced garment. Despite the violence of the action, the figures seem frozen in time—a result of the symmetry.

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The programs of The Morgan Library & Museum are made possible with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Background images: Photography by Todd Eberle unless otherwise noted. © 2006 Todd Eberle.