Cylinder Seal with Winged Genius and Human-headed Bulls, c. 700 B.C.


Cylinder seals were used for over 3,000 years in the ancient Near East to certify and formalize documents written on clay tablets. Rolled over the clay while still soft, leaving impressions of their designs and inscriptions, they functioned much like a signature of the owner, whose name is often recorded in the cylinder’s cuneiform inscription.

This seal shows an Assyrian winged genius between rampant, winged, human-headed bulls. All wear the horned headdress of deities and supernatural beings, and have long curled hair and beards. These semi-divine beings frequently appear on bas-reliefs (like those in the Kimbell's collection), and elsewhere in Assyrian art, especially in connection with the king. A deer is shown at a smaller scale in the space below the inscription. This text, in Assyrian cuneiform states: "Belonging to Nabu-apla-iddin, son of Bel-shuma-ibni."



Private collection, Syria.

Private collection, Lebanon, acquired between 1962 and 1968;

(art dealer, New Jersey) by 1981;

(Ward & Company Fine Art, Inc., New York), by 2001;

purchased by Kimbell Art Foundation, Fort Worth, 2001.