Where the Egyptians have wall paintings, the ancient Near East
has cylinder seals as the main source of illustrative material, covering a range of subject matter and periods not covered by relief sculptures. The seals are particularly attractive, and the inscriptions are rare examples of personal prayer from the ancient world.
This volume continues the story of the cylinder seal styles of the second millennium BC beyond Babylonia in this internationally recognized series documenting the British Museum’s cylinder seals collection. The Isin/Larsa and Old Babylonian Periods of the early 2nd millennium BC merited a whole volume (Volume III), as did the succeeding Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian periods of the 1st millennium BC (Volume V) and the Pre-Achaemenid and Achaemenid periods of the 1st millennia BC-AD in Iran (Volume VI). However, between 2000 and 1000 BC whole series of regional glyptic styles were developed in various autonomous kingdoms and city states. Each of these has merited its own chapter or section within this current volume, with its own selection of photographs and catalogue entries.
As the seals featured in this volume came from a number of different sites, they reflect a greater variety of styles than is the case with the single-period or single-origin groups of seals treated in the previous catalogues. There was also a greater exchange of seal-cutting expertise between the various kingdoms, and it is possible to make tentative suggestions as to seals possibly cut by the same craftsman.