Ritual repast scene

between 725 B.C. and 701 B.C.
black serpentine
17.5 x 15 x 12 mm
Morgan Seal 789
Acquired by Pierpont Morgan sometime between 1885 and 1908.

"The stamp seals.. that can be related to Neo-Assyrian cylinders (789-794) have been grouped as Neo-Assyrian, even though it is possible that some of them were not made in Assyria... In 789, the design on the base shows a worshiper before a table decked with a ritual repoast, as in the scenes on linear-style cylinders like 673. However, instead of the seated figure that in 673 is taken to be a king, a mace appears behind the table. This treatment correspons with that in Brussels 465, in which a mace, probaby a royal symbol, appears in the king's chair. A dating for 789 is suggested by reference to a cylinder from Khonsabad that can probably de dated as of the time of Sargon II, that is, late in the eighth century B.C. In the Khorsabad cylinder a different symbol, the crescetn staff, appears behind the table, where it is presumably substituting for a deity, as the mace may be substituting for a king in 789 and in the Brusels seal. The scene on one side of 789 shows a dragon under a spade and stylus, symbols of Marduk and Nabu. The dragon is probably to be regarded as supporting the symbols, for this clearly appears in similar scenes on the sides of stamp seals of modeled style (Louvre A. 731a; BN 620c). The other side of 789 bears a cow with suckling calf, an old Mesopotamian motif that has only one exact parallel among Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian seals, namely, on a stone discovered by Layard at Nineveh."--Porada, CANES, p. 96-97


Base: table decked with repast, mace at left -- Worshiper at right, rhomb behind latter -- Star and crescent in sky -- Side: cow with suckling calf -- Crescent and star in sky -- Side: dragon under tasseled spade and stylus.