King Standing on Sphinxes

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Overall: 1 1/4 × 9/16 in. (3.2 × 1.5 cm)
The Pierpont Morgan Library, New York
Morgan Seal 824

Even though cylinder seals had been carved in Mesopotamia for over three thousand years, the form was by no means exhausted by the time of the Persian conquest. Some of the most exquisite cylinders were produced in the Achaemenid workshops. On this seal it is no longer the nude bearded hero of the Akkadians who dominates the animals, but the Achaemenid king himself in a beautifully balanced yet artificial composition in which all elements are subservient to and a reflection of the king's majesty.

Acquired by Pierpont Morgan sometime between 1885 and 1908

"Seals 819-825 show the motif most frequently encountered in Achaemenian cylinders--that of a king holding at bay or subduing two monsters or lions, rendered in a symmetrical composition recalling the Assyrian cylinders 753-763. The king wears the billowy Persian garments in all of these scenes, except for the occurrence of the fringed Assyrian mantle in 822 ... Seals 824 and 825 show the king standing on two sphinxes, as in seal impressions found in the treasury of Persepolis, dating from the time of Darius and Xerxes."--Porada, CANES, p. 103


King standing on two crouching sphinxes and holding in each hand lion suspended by hind leg -- Terminal: palm tree, winged sun disk above it.