Cylindrical seals were used from the third millennium B.C. in Mesopotamia to authenticate and seal documents. The functionary responsible for the operation in question would use the cylinder as a signature and carried it suspended around his neck.
They were made of hard stones, often precious or semi-precious such as steatite, andesite, lapis lazuli or cornelian, or of bone, ivory, and in some cases wood, and were engraved with mythological, symbolic, ritual or heraldic images.
The historical development of Mesopotamian glyptic arts enables us to trace the evolution of the themes represented in the seals; the selection displayed illustrates the Late Uruk period up to the Persian Age (3300-333 B.C.).
Specimen D184, engraved in Akkadian language, shows a scene of presentation with male deities: the bi-frontal vizier Usmu stands before the god Ea, depicted in his dwelling surrounded by water. There is another figure, a kneeling standard-bearer, at the entrance of the god’s house.