Leather craftsmen working in two rooms divided by entwined snake-necked monsters

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between 3300/3200 B.C. and 3000 B.C.
greenish-black serpentine
29.5 x 25 mm
Morgan Seal 1
Acquired by Pierpont Morgan sometime between 1885 and 1908.

"The scene on the right has been interpreted by Frankfort (Cylinder seals, 1939, p. 20) as showing leather workers. This seems a good explanation, since the scene includes a figure wielding a mallet, an attendant bearing a skin, and a second skin and a shoe lying on the ground. The precise meaning of the snake-necked monsters framing the scenes of 1 is not known. In contemporaneous seal designs they appear in what seem to be merely ornamental motifs. However, it is reasonable to believe that these strange creatures originally had some mythological significance. It is possible therefore that their presence in 1 raises the import of the scenes from a secular to a religious level. The detached animal heads placed in the upper field of 1 do not have any obvious relation to the action of the scenes. The use of these heads is typical of Uruk designs, in which not only detached animal heads but also legs sometimes occur in the field.".... Porada, CANES, p. 2
Face of first figure at left abraded; slight damage at top end.


Two columns of entwined snake-necked monsters separating design into two scenes-- Left: Standing nude male figure, facing right, cutting up(?) animal or animal skin held over split post, and facing him, a standing nude male figure holding a mallet(?); a fish between them and a horned animal head above -- Right: Kneeling or seated nude male figure, facing left, holding stick and mallet(? ), and, facing him, a standing nude male figure holding animal or skin; a second animal or skin and shoe on ground, and two horned animal heads above.

Southern Mesopotamia.