Early Dynastic III, 3000-2340 B.C. [--Wiseman.]

The Ancient World : The Middle East : Pre-Sargonid Period


Upper register, two bull-men crouching on either side of three-branched plant set upon mountain, eagle biting back of each bull, two mythological beings (bull-man and naked hero) driving off eagles; lower register, two bulls standing, heads lowered beneath eagle with outspread wings, goat and deer behind bulls standing on hind legs, bird between goat and deer. [Description follows Wiseman.]
Strommenger describes the scene as mythological in meaning, showing two wild bulls lying on either side of plant growing on mountain, threatened by Im-dugud who is in turn attacked by bull-man and hero; below, bulls ibexes, stag, bird of prey.

Wiseman notes that the sacred tree or tree of life appears during this period for the first time standing on a mountain. The eagle with outspread wings may represent the god Imdugud. The eagle is a precursor of the winged disk, the common emblem of the sun-god. Its divinity is attested by the bulls who bow in worship before it here and men and bulls who kneel before it on other seals. Giedion writes that the scene has an undefined symbolic meaning in which the bull-man is the guardian of the sacred tree, the protector of life. See following seal for another example.


Seal (cylinder; impression; lazulite).

Material or Technique


Repository or Site
London: Mus., British; No. 22962.

Image Sources
b) from Giedion.* [JF 2235]

Wiseman, D.J., Cylinder (1959), p.25; pl.21.
*Giedion, S., ...Architecture (1964), pp.63-64; fig.26.
AFO, X (1935), p.237; fig.11.
Strommenger, E., Mesopotamia (n.d.), P.395; pl.64(2nd row, left).