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Collections | Ancient Near Eastern Seals & Tablets

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

Bull Man Protecting Horned Animals Attacked Felines; Scorpion Above Crossed Felines
Cylinder seal and impression
Mesopotamia, Early Dynastic III period
(ca. 2600–2334 B.C.)
41 x 25 mm
Seal no. 75
Rotate seal
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Here, the domesticated animals are no longer depicted grazing peacefully; a hero comes to their aid as they are attacked by lions. The scene has been interpreted as representing one of the great mythic dramas of Sumerian religion, that is, the eternal and cyclical struggle between the forces of order and chaos. The lions represent the chaos of the natural world, while the domesticated animals and man represent the forces of order and the attempt to impose order on their world. The violent action is perpetual—the battle is never resolved; the struggle is constant.

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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.