Skip to main content

The Elamite Cylinder Seal Corpus, c.3500 - 1000 BC

"The ancient region of Elam (southwestern Iran) has produced a significant assemblage of cylinder seals across a considerable chronological span. Unlike the glyptic material from the related and neighbouring region Mesopotamia, the Elamite cylinder seals have not previously been studied in detailed reference to one another, nor has there been an established paradigm of stylistic development articulated. This study addresses this lacuna by compiling all the published cylinder seals from Elam (as defined here, thus incorporating the historical provinces of Khuzistan, Luristan and Fars), from their earliest appearance (c.3500 BC), throughout the era of their typological dominance (over stamp seals, thus this study departs c.1000 BC). This compilation is presented in the Elamite Cylinder Seal Catalogue (Volume II), and is annotated and described through the annunciation of eighteen chronologically defined developmental styles (with another two non-chronological type classifications and four miscellaneous groups). Through the further analysis of this data, including the newly formulated and articulated styles, several facets and problems of Elamite glyptic material have been addressed (and thus the reliance upon assumed similarity in type and function with the Mesopotamian glyptic material is abandoned). These problems particularly pertain to the function of cylinder seals in Elam and the type and form of the Elamite-Mesopotamian glyptic interaction. In regards to function, a standard administrative function can be discerned, though of varying types and forms across the region and the period of study. Other, non-standard, symbolic glyptic functions can also be demonstrated in the Corpus, including the apparent proliferation of a form known as the ‘votive’ seal, perhaps a specifically Elamite form. The analysis of the style type (whether ‘Elamite’, ‘Mesopotamian Related’ or ‘Shared Elamite-Mesopotamian’), in association with their relative geographical and chronological distribution, has also enabled the discussion of the nature of Elamite-Mesopotamian glyptic interaction, and thereby the constitution of Elamite civilisation (especially in regards to Mesopotamian cultural impact and influence, and thus the testing of several previously presented paradigms [Amiet 1979a; 1979b; Miroschedji 2003])."

Author(s):  Roach, Karen Jane
Format:  Book
Publisher:  University of Sydney
Publication City:  Sydney
Date:  2009